Borrowing, building and using a fluorescence microscope for educational purposes, possible from 2020!
If constructing a microscope from scratch or seeing the myriad of organelles inside a cell sounds appealing to you, then the European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS) is ready to take you on an exciting journey! The project “From Nature to Technology: Microscope in Action”, a fruitful collaboration between ELLS and researchers of the Prevedel Lab at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg, offers users the opportunity to assemble a research-grade fluorescence microscope which can be used to image and analyse various samples. The microscope is part of the ELLS developed “Microscope in Action” educational kit which consists of the microscope, a laptop with imaging software, an experimental research box, and a teacher handbook complete with multimedia guidance materials and student resources. The kit will be available to rent at no cost from 2020 onwards.
Throughout its two years of existence, the project has evolved tremendously. Nevertheless, the latest developments of “Microscope in Action” are aligned with the project’s overarching goal: to inspire pupils and other learners through their practical experiences with science and technology. The programme is intended to complement the current science education curriculum by offering a safe and innovative hands-on experience, provide insights into the latest scientific findings in imaging, and bridge the gap between pupils and interdisciplinary scientists. Simultaneously, the project provides EMBL scientists with the opportunity to get involved in public engagement by promoting awareness of scientific careers to the students while seeing their research from different angles.
Since the project’s launch in mid-October 2017, many learners have immersed themselves into the microscopy experience. Every year, pupils from the Internationale Gesamtschule Heidelberg, Germany have enjoyed the kit. Their comments are really encouraging for the projects’ goals: “My favourite aspect was to use the microscope itself”, or, “I found the whole process of sample preparation very interesting”. Besides this, “Microscope in Action” has been booked multiple times from within the EMBL laboratories. The project has already touched foreign ground as part of a pupil microscopy workshop in Medellin, Colombia. Additionally, EMBL scientists also invited participants to utilize the microscope in Rome, Italy as part of a collaborative event involving the Tara’s stopover. The feedback from these experiences has been beneficial to the development team at ELLS because it provides inspiration for potential future resources and implementations.
The project is currently at the end of its second developmental phase. A second-generation fluorescence microscope and its accompanying teacher and student resources have been developed and refined. Next, approximately ten ready-to-use “Microscope in Action” kits will be available for booking from early 2020 onwards. Finally, to better support participating teachers, the ELLS team has created “Microscope in Action” workshops which will be held at EMBL Heidelberg.