Big Worlds in Small Packages- Science Exploration with a Second Hand Microscope

I was searching for new science experiments to try with my boys, and I came across a suggestion to do a science exploration with microscopes.  The writer suggested taking magnified photos of every day items, showing them to your kids, and seeing if they could guess what they were.  The author didn’t go into detail about how to take these magnified photos.

We have a a second hand microscope I picked up from Goodwill.  Only the lowest magnification setting works, and you have to hold the light source in place, but I wondered if we could somehow take pictures on it.  We had used it a few days prior to look at sugar while we cooked up some solution for rock candy.  I thought it made the experience more meaningful to be able to show how the sugar was really a little block-like crystal, and that our candy would form into bigger sugar crystals.  I liked the idea of the guessing game, but wanted to be able to emphasize it with looking at things under the microscope.

Turns out you can use your digital camera to take photos on the microscope.  I’m not saying they are the world’s greatest pictures.  The detail looking through the actual microscope was much better.  But I was able to take the photos to play the game, and then show the actual items under the scope for further reference.

Ok, mostly I’m just impressed with the photo hack :).  I simply set up my $8 scope, and held my digital camera where I would normally look through.  Had I taken the time to set up a tri-pod, I could have probably gotten some better photos, but I didn’t go that far.

Here is my cheap scope kit.  My camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5.


First up, white sugar.  I like how all the pictures look like I am photographing the moon.P1170947

Second, a strand of my hair.  Happy to see it appeared free of split ends.


Third, a spider web.  Not surprisingly, very goth.


Fourth, a swab of saliva from my mouth.  I think the coloring is due to coffee.


Next, a torn piece of a leaf.


A bit of my son’s booger from a bloody nose.  I know, gross.  But what kid doesn’t want to see his booger close up?


But our super-duper primo find was live microscopic animals in our frog’s water.  I believe they were euglena because they had flagella, though that might be difficult to make out.  I remember looking for amoebas in pond water during eighth grade earth science class, and being disappointed to not see anything.  Thirty years later and finally, I found life!! I can die a happy woman.

P1180031 P1180009 P1180019

So there you go.  Hurry over to Goodwill and grab yourself a scope.  There are whole worlds for waiting for your kids to discover them!


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