Monday, March 1, 2010

Using microscopes to study nature

We recently had Valentine's day flowers get wilted and old. What's a mom to do? Dissect them! What could be more fun to a kid?

After we cut the flowers open on the table, we examined them and named the parts. We talked about our bees in the hive in relation to the flowers, then I thought we were done. Well, I was done; the kids were not. "G" of GAIN had left the microscope out from a couple days prior -- looking at money -- which was fine with me. (His younger sister used it the next day to study the hair on our heads.) Anyway, he and "I" of GAIN decided to examine the flower parts at a higher level.

We always misplace our magnifying glasses, therefore we never use them. Microscopes however, are much less lose-able. The one in the photo above came cheaply from a U of I auction many years ago, a gift from a well-intentioned grandparent. It is very extremely heavy (less loseable and moveable, or should I say "put-away-able"), and the its best feature is the light. No batteries like the ones you get at a "civilian store" (the words of our oldest). It is missing clips on the platform, but we have dealt with it long enough to manage it well.

Having free time and access to equipment to discover and learn on your own is a great gift that can enrich your life. One of the children called the other one and me over to look at the difference between the stigma and anther. This particular flower's parts looked similar to the naked eye, but under the scope, they were very different. I hope to culture the children's curiosity enough for them to keep it all their lives.

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