Kids literally jumped with excitement when they saw the new Nancy B Science Club Microscope and Activity Journal. It was clearly linked to special past learning experiences with “Frank the Scientist” in preschool or science class in elementary school. Beginning with learning the vocabulary of science–scalpel, test tube, petri dish, pipette, or slide, kids dove right in, suggesting we gather some specimens from outside. Leaves, mini pine cones, feathers, and pond water were our first objects to magnify. We prepared our slides, slipped them in the stage clips, turned on the light, selected our degree of magnification (30, 100, 400x) and turned the focusing knob to discover what a leaf looks like 400 times larger than we can see with our eyes. Kids were excitedly asking the viewer what it looked like. Our yellow leaf ”looks like a turtle shell” with large connecting circles, while the pine cone looked “like a rainbow” with many parallel lines. The corresponding Activity Journal draws kids into deeper learning, building language skills as children compare different magnifications, sources of light below and above the specimen, describe cells of an onion or your cheek, or learn about crystals and microorganisms. One of my favorite journal entries involves comparing 3 different spices, by drawing what you see under the dissecting microscope and then writing three clues distinguishing their appearance so a friend can try to identify each one. Listen to the language learning in this scientific tool as children learn, describe, problem-solve, infer and write their conclusions.
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