The Invisible Microscope

Imagine teaching your biology students how to use a compound microscope without using innumerable variations of “don’t touch anything until you have completed the directions”, without hearing your name at least 100 times during each class period and without coming perilously close to loosing your patience. What follows is a brief description of a method to teach microscope skills that avoids these frustrations – and results in solid learning. This approach to helping your biology students learn to use a compound microscope is called the “The Invisible Microscope”….

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“You can see photosynthesis happening.”

Today I had the privilege of presenting the Floating Leaf Disk Photosynthesis lab to a group of enthusiastic Cornell Institute for Biology Teaching (CIBT) teachers.  I really enjoyed my brief time with these folks that gave up 2 weeks of their summer to learn more biology–specifically labs that work for their students.

One of the participants, Lynn, was very familiar with the lab and had actually submitted it as one of her “favorite labs” to share, not knowing that I was going to present.  Something she said, really captures this experience and value of this lab.  She said that one of her students (one that might not have demonstrated a lot of previous interest in biology) completed an investigation of his own question about photosynthesis and reported on it in a science fair type of format.  Apparently he described the floating disk technique to his judges as

“You can see photosynthesis happening.”

He’s right and that’s what makes this technique such a powerful tool for learning about photosynthesis and  doing science.  Thanks for sharing, Lynn.