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Microscopes Bring Sixth-Graders to Campus for Cell Close-ups

Sixth-grade science students spent part of their week on campus with microscopes to begin learning about plant and animal cells.

“This was a fantastic way to engage students in a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to learning about cells and microscopes,” Middle School Science Teacher Storm Siegel said. “The main purpose of this activity is to get students excited about the wonders of the human body, microorganisms, and all things too small for the naked eye to see.”

In preparation for the biology unit that begins after Thanksgiving break, students observed three groups of objects under microscopes. First, students learned how to make a wet mount slide and then observed red onion cells. 

“It's so fun for students to have hands-on experience, especially in science,” Siegel said. “That students got the chance to physically use a microscope. Seeing the cells themselves is so much more meaningful than just viewing the same pictures online. It's also a great way for students to become interested in a topic they may know nothing about.”

Students also inspected plant and animal matter, and water from the wetlands.

“We found some pretty neat microorganisms that were swimming along in the students' slides,” Siegel said. “Ultimately, students were able to observe some major differences between plant and animal cells without having any prior knowledge—they were super impressive!”

Continuous learning and the COVID-19 pandemic have offered a new appreciation for learning together in person and there were plenty of moments of joy, excitement, and education this week to help students through these times of isolation.

“There was a lot of joy and amazement on students' faces,” Siegel said. “I heard so many ‘whoa, cool, and awesome!’ statements yesterday, which is entirely the purpose of doing an activity like this with students in-person.”

Photos courtesy of Kathleen Hicks and Laura Todis.