I am really excited about a new product just launched a few months ago. In some of my early posts I have talked about how to turn a regular light microscope into a digital microscope using the camera on an iPad. This works great, however it can be really frustrating trying to align the camera with the eye piece, getting it in focus and then having a free hand to hit the picture button. It can be done but takes some practice and usually two people.
A new product by www.arcturuslabs.com has made this process a lot easier, at least for iPhone uses. They have created an adapter that allows you to hook your iPhone up to most microscopes allowing you to take pictures, record video and then share them anyway you want.
I am excited to use this in my classes and even more hopeful that they might create one for the iPad.
See their video here: Magnifi
We have a set of microscopes from the 1970s that are still in great shape but certainly don’t have the ability to capture images. Digital microscopy is an excellent teaching tool for many reasons.
1. The large screen allows for the student and the teacher to view the same image at the same time. It is a lot easier to teach students about what they are looking at if you both can see the screen at the same time.
2. Even with digital microscopy I still believe the task of drawing to be very important in the development of my students. The digital images of the slides provides a great way for the teacher and student to compare their drawings directly to what they see under the microscope. The iPad allows students to capture the small viewing area of a regular compound microscope and transfer it to the larger screen of the iPad. Once the image has been captured to the iPad the student and the teacher can look at the image and at their drawing. A really good conversation about what the student is actually seeing can then take place much easier now that we can point to specific items from the slide and their drawings.
While the images are far from perfect they are much better then most teacher expect. There are better digital microscope options out there but if you already have an iPad or an iPhone why not incorporate this into your microscopy lessons.
See the examples of the lab below.
Creating More Comprehensive Student Lab Reports:
As we began looking at ways to incorporate the iPad into our science class we were not always looking to completely flip our already successful curriculum on its head, but rather ways we could enhance particular areas. One way we did this was to have our students use the iWork apps to create media rich laboratory reports. Having students create their lab repots within the Pages application allows them to incorporate both still images and videos directly into their reports allowing them to capture a greater picture of their learning then a typical printed version.
What we did:
- Created and distributed via Dropbox or WebDave a template lab created in Pages. This template has a number of useful information.
- Directions for the lab are at the student finger tips
- We recorded video directions for some of our labs where students needed to see how to do something.
- Students could read the directions, answer pre-lab questions and watch the instructional videos before coming to class. This saved precious class time needed to complete the lab and insured students had the necessary information before starting the lab.
- By creating a template for students to download and use we provided the overall layout of the lab including prelab questions, step by step instructions to complete the lab, analysis questions and predesignated areas for them to import images, videos, tables and graphs.
- Used the Numbers app to create a drop down menu template for students to use in our digestion and cardiovascular labs. By creating a table with columns that have set choices in a drop down menu our students had to create a comprehensive table of biomolecules digested, the location of digestion, enzyme responsible for digestion and the products of that digestion. (See images below)
What the Students Did:
- Students captured images and imported them into the free app called Skitch that allows them to label and annotate their images before importing them into their lab report in Pages.
- Students used the Numbers template to fill in information about the enzymes involved in digestion
- Students captured video to record certain stations in the lab.
- Answered pre and post lab analysis questions
- Submitted their lab via WebDAV to our local network folder. (If you don’t have WebDAV and you are using Dropbox you can use the website http://otixo.com/ to link the iWork apps to dropbox.
Student Example of Submitted Work