Monday, April 12, 2010

Innovative Idea for Equipment-Poor Science Teachers to Provide Hands-On Experiences for Learners

With school budget cuts it's often difficult to give students the hands-on experience in science that makes learning fun. A new campaign from ASPEX a producer of Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM) may help alleviate the issue. Their "Send Us Your Sample" campaign let's students send any sample to a remote lab. Perfect for equipment-strapped schools. Students simply submit their Submission Form (PDF) along with their sample and they'll get a free report posted.

Students can send in anything they'd like, from a broken iPhone, to a dead insect, to chewed gum. The SEM has a scan range of 100nm to 5mm and an imaging resolution of 25nm, capable of bringing the smallest samples into focus. ASPEX will scan submitted samples and then post before/after photos along with an analytical report online. This allows viewers to see what the sample looks like to the naked eye as well as under the SEM.

You can send students to the site right now to visit the SEM Image Gallery where they can see samples of already scanned objects, including mold, cat hair, fly eyes, an old toothbrush and more. What's more students can have the experience of writing authentically because comments are allowed on each before and after photo series. Educators can teach students how to join the conversation with real audiences leaving thoughtful and appropriate comments that add to learning of all. When students images are posted, encourage them to write comments on images of their classmates.

Students can also engage in a fun contest on the site right now is called "Name that Sample!" Each week magnified images are shown and the person who guesses it right or closest, wins a prize. Right now the prize is a brand new Netbook providing a fun and innovative way to encourage learning, communication and team building.

So what are you waiting for. Go to, check it out, then have your students send in their samples!


  1. This is very cheap. It's Newtonian physics.

  2. This is no neat! How awesome is it for students to be able to submit anything they want and see what it looks like in a different way. This is especially great, as you said, for the schools who don't have the luxury to own high-tech lab equipment. There are many schools who don't have the funding for such things and it is great to be able to still use them even though they aren't directly in the classroom. This is a great way to get kids interested in science and to allow them to view things beyond their normal range of vision. Kudos to you for finding and sharing this!