Guest post: Jenny McQueen 1
I like to look.
I like to take a real, good, close-up look.
As a child, I examined the fleas pulled from my dogs. I hunted through their fur for the fleas that were fat with blood and placed them under my childs microscope. This unseen world was exciting and transformative. The use of a microscope can shift your perspective, revealing complexity in that which is small, diversity in that which you thought the same and biological commonality amongst living things.
Armed with a light microscope and a dissecting microscope I planned to share this world with the students of the future science leaders program at Science World. I was so excited about these lessons that every time I played them out in my mind the lessons started looking more like a von Trapp family outing to the lab!
We examined our own cheek cells, we made slides from the pollen of a bouquet of flowers. At the culmination of the lessons about making microscopy slides and the basics of how to use a microscope I challenged the students to produce one 8X10 image taken on our microscope of the subject of their choosing. If we weren’t going to be the von Trapps we would be Warhols.
I envisioned students bringing pond water samples teaming with life, samples of home made kombucha (this is Vancouver), or needing to dissuade students wanting to see their own blood. Instead, students brought in the real everyday: dog hair, leaves, pencil shavings, apples, salt and sugar. As each one of them made it under the microscope, I came to realize the narrow lens from which I was seeing the world. From the most ordinary of objects came “ohhh” and “wows”. Things I had never considered such as the junction between apple flesh and apple skin. From these magnified images came the questions “what is that?”
The images that the students chose to display
Please click through – they are not in any particular order 🙂
- This was written by Dr. J. McQueen, post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia and an instructor in Future Science Leaders. ↩