A little more outreach

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Tom Jones
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Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:47 pm

A little more outreach

#1 Post by Tom Jones » Sun Oct 16, 2016 3:39 pm

There was a huge STEM outreach demonstration Wednesday and Thursday, Oct 5 and Oct 6, at the STEP (Science and Technology Education Partnership) Conference (http://myscienceeducation.com) in Riverside, Ca., at the Bourns Technology Center. Sponsored by Bourns, University of California, Riverside, Abbott Vascular, General Atomics (the Tokomak fusion energy folks), Boeing, 3M, Lockheed Martin, Riverside County Office of Education and many others. We had over 4,000 (!) kids from 4th-12th grades come through over two days. STEP even paid for the buses to get the kids to the show.

This was my seventh year demonstrating microscopes and microscopy at STEP, and it's by far the biggest one I do. If you check out the flyers on the website, the microscopes are prominently displayed :).

I had a wide range of subjects for them to look at under seven Olympus BH-2's, all set up with teaching heads so I could have kids on both sides of the tables. There was a thin slice of a meteorite probably from the asteroid Vesta (ASU197-A-6 for those interested), under POL with a 530nm wave plate, and showing a nice, bubbling fusion crust, a Kemp 25 form diatom arrangement, a W.H. Youdale slide of a body louse collected by his son in 1917, in the trenches in France during WWI (the favorite photographic subject, and one that occasionally makes the kids scream when the see it!), a nice antique strew of foraminifera, breast cancer cells in pleural fluid (from my hospital lab days and more for the adults), a nice antique Obelia geniculata hydrazoan slide, and a nice teaching slide of mitosis in onion root tip. Also I had an Olympus SZH stereo and a Zeiss Opmi stereo set up with fresh plankton net collections from a couple of local lakes in dark field. An AO Cycloptic stereo with some plastic embedded beetles and a centipede rounded out the microscopes. The monitor was looping some of my 4k video.

Quick lessons in cell phone photography through the scopes resulted in probably a couple hundred photomicrographs as souvenirs!!

And ZERO damage to any scope or specimen, ever.

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STEP-2016-14.jpg (221.48 KiB) Viewed 909 times
STEP-2016-13.jpg (211.99 KiB) Viewed 909 times

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Re: A little more outreach

#2 Post by JimT » Sun Oct 16, 2016 3:57 pm

Good for you. Looks like an enthusiastic group.

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Re: A little more outreach

#3 Post by zzffnn » Sun Oct 16, 2016 6:09 pm

Very nice!

Were children interested in foraminifera and diatoms? If there was a consensus favorite slide, what was it? Louse?

Were they allowed to change focus and/or objectives? I assume no objective more powerful than NA 0.65 were used there?

Tom Jones
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Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:47 pm

Re: A little more outreach

#4 Post by Tom Jones » Mon Oct 17, 2016 1:02 am


The main interest in the forams and diatoms were "what are they" since they really had never seen anything like that. The louse slide probably got more good photos, and actually scared a couple kids since it completely filled the frame. 8-)

There are a couple of problems letting them move the slide, change focus or objectives, and they did a bit of that even though I asked them not to when I caught them. :shock: Without adequate time to explain how to use them - this was a very fast moving program - if they changed anything the next kids would not see what I had set up since it would never be returned to the original position and magnification. Sometimes only a blank field would be left. :( I was constantly looking through them myself and refocusing, recentering and sometimes putting the most appropriate objective back in place. :roll: A 40x DPlan was the highest mag obj used (for the breast cancer cells), and most were 10x-20x. As I recall, I had a mag changer on the mitosis slide. I have removed all of the 100x DPlans I used to have in place as a couple of the slides are pretty thick and I'd rather not take the chance the slide would be damaged if someone moved the 100x into place.


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