MP Middle School science classes step into 21st Century with digital microscopes

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Members of the Noon Rotary flocked around the digital microscopes Mt. Pleasant Middle School students brought in to show off during their regular meeting last week.

Eighth-graders Jackie Tansey and Andrew Rauenbuehler confidently explained how the digital microscopes take an image and upload it to the computer, saying that the images being shown that afternoon were the cells of an onion rind and a bamboo shoot.

The microscopes were purchased with funds from Enhance Henry County, which contributed $5,000; Pennebaker Foundation in New London, which gave $750; the Noon Rotary, Evening Rotary and Kiwanis, which contributed $600 each; and the Academic Booster Club and the Mt. Pleasant Community School Foundation, which gave $500 each.

?The whole purpose of these organizations is so the school can turn to them for extra support,? Mary Elgar said. ?I had no idea what a digital microscope is. A lot of these members have grandchildren who live far away. I thought it was nice to get these people to connect so they can see what?s happening in the schools.?

As a thank-you, Tansey and Rauenbuehler visited Noon Kiwanis, Evening Rotary and Noon Rotary with various faculty members over the past couple weeks to demonstrate the power of the microscopes and explain how it creates more engagement in the classroom.

?It?s so much more versatile,? Rauenbuehler said. With the new microscopes, students in middle school science classrooms can all look at an image all at once and discuss it with their teacher rather than standing in line waiting to look through the lens one at a time.

?It?s so much easier to learn,? Tansey said. ?We used to all look at one microscope and it took so long.? Tansey added that she has enjoyed demonstrating the microscopes to the clubs to show them that the investment was worthwhile.

Rauenbuehler said that with the old models, students were pressed for time and would be working past the bell, making them anxious and late for their next class. Now, they get more time to learn. ?We get to enjoy having our microscopes,? he said.

As the students showed off more features, Robb Gardner, Rotary member and Henry County Health Center CEO, commented ?That way, you always have [the image] instead of trying to draw it.?

?We didn?t have any of these, especially as I went to school,? Rotary member Kevin Wheeler was heard saying.

The school originally requested five microscopes be purchased for the four science classrooms in the middle school, but they were given above and beyond when they received 20 microscopes last spring.

Teachers worked with AEA consultant Laura Williams last spring when they received the microscopes to learn about them enough to introduce them to students.

Linc Davis, Science teacher at Mt. Pleasant Middle School, said that the digital microscopes help step the department into the 21st Century. Davis said the teachers are still working with the curriculum to figure out what can and cannot be done with the digital microscopes in the classroom.

?On behalf of the Mt. Pleasant Science Department, it?s awesome you came together for us,? Davis said during the Noon Rotary meeting, saying that it was ?quite an undertaking? to get this funding, which took a year to do.

Davis added that thanks to the microscopes, engagement level with students has increased. With the microscopes having a binocular lens instead of a monocular lens like the old models, students can view images with both eyes together, which is ?very handy,? Davis said. ?I think we?re ahead of the curve with digital microscopes,? Davis said, adding that while they have been around for a while, they are finally getting cheap enough to integrate into classrooms.

Davis mentioned that the older microscopes might be donated to the elementary schools.