The history of microscopes is centuries old. Roman scientists used “burning glasses” in their scripts. But it wasn’t until the late 1300’s that the earliest microscope was made. A simple tube with two lenses placed at opposite ends was used for magnifying. This tube later gave birth to the modern microscope.

August Kohler has the credit of inventing uniform microscope illumination. This made photography of the specimen possible.

Ernst Leitz came up with a way of having different magnifications by using multiple lenses on a movable gear at the lens tube end.

Over a few decades, the use of these ‘magic lenses’ has increased in schools. This is one of the best tools for making students excited about science. The most common microscopes that are used in high schools are compound and binocular microscopes. A compound microscope with a concrete magnification is often sufficient for high schools.

Biology is a part of natural science. It is essential that its teaching is through active learning and observing biological realities. Many things are not visible to the naked eye that are precious for students to experience first-hand and search through discovery learning. As the importance of learning about microorganisms, cellular structure, and organs can’t be denied, it’s vital to bring closer a microscope to achieve this purpose. Microscopy is a visual method of learning and can be used for practical work and demonstration methods.

Microscopes have taken science to a whole new extent. Students can see right in front of their eyes what they study about, cell structures, the existence of microorganisms, and can see the smallest parts of animals, plants, and fungi.

It is exciting to know that microscopy applies to many disciplines, other than just science, from chemistry to forensics, earth science to physics. 

Natural science studies should involve active learning, investigation, and revelation of the world around us with critical thinking. Passive learning provides students with incomplete knowledge that is ineffective and unsatisfactory. Therefore, teachers need to use active learning and prepare curricular and extracurricular activities for students for faster and better adoption and innovative education.

Early science knowledge is essential for future scientists as well as for everyone else. Using microscopes in schools can:

  • Provide hands-on learning.
  • Promote seeing, doing, questioning, thinking, and discussing.
  • Be used for other branches of science.
  • Increase curiosity to look for new specimens.
  • Motivate some students to become a scientist.

Microscopy helps in learning and memorizing facts and figures easily than the traditional mode of teaching. One can say that the old, traditional way of teaching science neither evokes individual interest and enthusiasm in science, nor it produces the mental level to face and succeed in this modern, technology-dominated world.

When students learn about operating microscopes, they then try and relate this to many other aspects of knowledge and creativity. Microscopy teaches at two definite levels: direct experience and indirect knowledge.

Direct knowledge is all about microscopes, design, features, specimen preparation, etc. Indirect experience is provided when any image from any other educational subject is shown. Therefore. Microscopy helps in learning about many issues.

What can microscopy do that books and videos cannot?

Just looking is not enough. Students must learn to see, to brainstorm, to discuss, to ask, and to question. There are at least seven advantages of microscopy over textbook reading:

  • It is a hands-on affair.
  • It is a simultaneous use of eyes, hands, and brains.
  • It is favorable for classroom discussions and questions & answers sessions. Students can work individually and in groups.
  • Students don’t learn facts; instead, they learn to use visual information, discover the unseen world, and learn to operate it.
  • Binoculars and telescopes can also be involved by extending the optics of a microscope.
  • Students can learn about different specimens along with microscopes and optics.
  • Microscopes are research tools as well as they are fun to use.

Education in science and technology is education with microscopes. Without microscopes, there are many achievements which the students won’t be able to achieve.

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Asra Ejaz is MBBS doctor and recently started her professional practices before proceeding to further specialization. Asra has decided to pursue her career as child specialist because of her affiliation with children.

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