What’s New in 7th Grade Science at DFMS? Microscopes!

Eve Sarno, Staff Writer

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Recently, something different, yet captivating, has revealed itself in Dr. Park’s science class, allowing 7th graders to see the world in a new point of view. The answer is: microscopes!

This year’s bunch of kids have uncovered their chance at exploring the world of concave and convex lenses through varying activities. Dr. Park possesses two types of microscopes; the simpler, less powerful compound microscopes, and the 21st century digital microscopes complete with electronic  screens.

In September, Dr. Park launched right in with his knowledgeable speech and instructional tutorial on how to use the compound microscopes. These microscopes offer up to 550 times the magnification of the object being scrutinized. There are three objective lenses, 4x, 10x, and 40x, along with the eyepiece, the lens at the top of the microscope, which offers 10x magnification. Each magnification is multiplied by 10, so all in all, 550x!

In order to present students with the wonders of this unfamiliar technology, Dr. Park had the grade write a tiny letter “e” on the corner of a piece of paper. Then, 7th graders ripped off the (unsure) “e”.

The students placed the “e” onto a glass slide, squeezed a drop of water onto it from the pipette available, finally resting the coverslip on top, so our “e”, who was still feeling nervous about whether this was a surgical procedure or not, had been transformed into an alphabet sandwich.

Following Dr. Park’s guidance, the kids secured the sandwich in place using the stage clips. The stage is where specimens are placed to be viewed, and the stage clips hold the specimen in place. The kids checked that the microscope was set on the lowest magnification (4x) before proceeding. They switched on the light source, then used the coarse focus knob to raise the stage to its highest point. “Take a look!” said Dr. Park.

A chorus of “oohs” and “wows” engulfed the room, as these eager children peeked in the eyepiece. I viewed it myself, and I was able to see the graphite smear that was the loop of the “e”. As I moved on to 10x and 40x, I could observe the individual specks and smears of the pencil line! It was wondrous. It was marvelous. It was too amazing to be translated into words. It was so great that it caused us to perceive Alice’s quote in Wonderland: “I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” That was what we thought. But we had seen little yet in this microscopic world.

The next part of the unit consisted of Dr. Park taking us outside to the school’s back courtyard, where we exited for fire drills. We clipped on smaller microscopes to our phone cameras, and took photos of what we saw in the courtyard. A popular choice was leftover taco meat from the school cafeteria, which proved to be gray and undercooked, and a crushed bumblebee. Dr. Park will be posting his favorite photos on the school website.

As we gained experience, Dr. Park let us try out the fancy digital microscopes, which had another objective lens and two more screen magnifications. Most students looked at an apple through this microscope, and saw green and red puffs. Will we ever look at an apple the same way again?

We also used the digital microscopes to view pond water that Dr. Park had brought in. This was our first chance to see living, moving, things, and many things we did see! One particular group found a large crustacean with visible lungs that was breathing. Other groups found spiky organisms, and there were clear skeletons of dead creatures as well.

After these endeavors, I grabbed Salma Cruz, a 7th grader at DFMS, and had a quick chat about microscopes. Salma shared her thoughts. “Concerning microscopes, I feel that I do not dislike it, but I do not love it. I feel somewhere in between. Microscopes are fun, but they’re a bit boring, too.” She elaborated on the objects you could see, “You pretty much get to see viruses and fungi and stuff, but I [am excited to] see something more interesting.”

According to varied remarks heard in the 7th grade hallways after science class, kids had mixed reactions about the unique take Dr. Park had taken on his subject. I decided to get a parent’s thinking on this. So, I arranged a meeting with Jeanne Sarno, a parent of a DFMS seventh grader, to get the juice.

When asked about the microscopes, Jeanne said, “I think the microscopes are a positive influence in the classroom. It’s great that students get to use such hands-on materials. It seems like it’s having a bigger impact on the students than I would have thought.”

Sarno also approves of this state-of-the-art technology in the classroom, and doesn’t deem it too mature for 7th graders. “I definitely approve of it. Everyone can view things under a microscope. Their understanding of it will be age-appropriate.”  She continues, “I wish I could have used microscopes so early on in my education, because it could have created more of a yearning to understand science.”

It appears that, for this lesson, you must peek through the eyepiece yourself and decide whether these fascinating wonders are really “fascinating” at all.


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