Under the Microscope

Under the Microscope is a FREE microscopy outreach programme in Ireland designed to promote and explore core Science, Technology, Engineering, & Maths (STEM) skills for children in primary school, in a fun and educational environment using the Royal Microscopical Society's (RMS) Microscope Activity Kits.

The microscopy kit contains 8 microscopes, a digital camera, and all educational materials (worksheets, teacher notes) needed for 6 pre-designed activities. The kit is essentially a lab in a box and provides a platform from which to explore biological and materials science through engaging team-based educational activities. The digital camera can be connected to laptop/PC/whiteboard screens allowing children to experience data gathering and scientific communication. This allows students and teachers alike to not only carry out the 6-predesigned activities but to delve into a plethora of applications to creatively innovate on an accessible small scale. It fosters inherent interest in, and love of, science and the scientific method, and exploration of unknown worlds.

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The RMS Microscope Activity Kit outreach programme was launched in the UK in 2011, and to date has reached over 26,000 children. The Under the Microscope team, in collaboration with the RMS began a pilot programme with funding secured through the NUI Galway staff and student collaborative initiative, EXPLORE, in January 2015. Since it was launched, 4 rural schools in county Galway and 1 in county Mayo were visited by 'real life scientists' to set up and demonstrate the kits to both students and primary school teachers. Each of the schools visited kept the kit for a minimum of 4 weeks allowing over 450 primary school students to have access to a microscope on a daily basis for this period. Feedback collected suggests all teachers surveyed found the kit easy to use in the classroom, whilst most teachers said they would be more confident to carry out STEM activities with their classes after their experience with the kit.

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The Under the Microscope pilot programme was a stomping success!

Now with the support of the Microscopy Society of Ireland and its members, the Under the Microscope team will be able to reach nine more schools over the 2015/2016 school year. The team will be continuing their efforts to secure funding to continue this programme in Ireland in conjunction with Dr Susan Anderson and the RMS outreach and education committee and the Microscopy Society of Ireland.

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Please contact: underthemicroscope@microscopy.ie for more information or if you are a teacher or parent/guardian in Ireland and you think your school may be interested in taking part.

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