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New School Year

I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year! Don’t get me wrong. I definitely need the break that summer affords, especially after the year I had this past school year (you can read about it here), but by the start of August, as stores are putting out their back-to-school supplies and sales, I too am anticipating the fresh start of a new year.

Our school doesn’t allow us to keep our classroom keys over the summer (which is probably a good thing, really, or I might have been there far too often over the summer). It wasn’t until mid-August (a week or so before we are contracted back) that we were permitted to check back in and retrieve our keys… and gain access to our classrooms. And, thanks to Pinterest and Amazon, I was ready to get back in, full of new ideas and new purchases.

I spent my first day back rearranging my student desks (I’m trying out a new idea for collaboration and group work) and reorganizing my classroom. This is something I do every year (something my co-workers find quite funny, actually). At the end of the previous year, I strip my classroom bare so that when I walk back in come August, it truly is like a fresh start. I can reflect on things that went well and change those things that need improvement. It’s one of my favorite aspects of teaching, that every year, every trimester, every school break, and even every day gives all of us a new beginning and new opportunity to reflect and improve. After all, education is a journey, not a destination, isn’t it?

This year, I am making a commitment to become more organized in my classroom and to be more deliberate about my student groupings and collaboration techniques. I can’t wait to share what I learn on this journey!

What are your goals for the coming school year? Are you trying out new curriculum ideas or classroom management techniques? Feel free to share your new school year goals here!

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Making Microscopes

Did you know that you can turn your smartphone or tablet into a Microscope? Here’s How…

Light allows us to see objects. It reflects off an object and projects an image onto the retina of our eyes, which our brain then interprets. But, if we bend the light, we can change how the object projects. We can make the object bigger or smaller, or even distort the image completely. By using a lens (a curved piece of transparent material, usually plastic or glass), we can manipulate the light to make an object appear closer or larger.
In this activity, we will combine the camera lens already found in a smartphone or tablet, with a second lens to make a microscope (a tool to see (scope) small (micro) things).

*Inexpensive Laser Pointer *bobby pin
*super glue *tweezers or small screwdriver
*wire cutters (or other scissors strong
enough to cut through metal)
*masking tape
*tablet or smart phone

Disassemble the laser pointer until you are left with the light
and circuit unit. The small, silver barrel attached to the unit
contains the lens.

Break off the silver tube, setting all other pieces aside.

Using the tweezers or small screw driver, carefully remove the ring that holds the lens in place. The lens should fall out after the ring is removed.
If you are unable to remove the ring, complete the optional step below.

(OPTIONAL – only needed if step 3 was unsuccessful) Using the wire cutters, carefully cut notches into the sides of the top, loosening the hold on the lens (use caution and adult supervision here… alternatively, students can attempt to work the lens loose with the bobby pin and tweezers. It’s important not to scratch the lens, however.)

Turn the top upside down on a firm surface and gently bang the top against the surface until the lens comes loose. You can also attempt to work the lens loose with the bobby pin or tweezers. Be sure not to scratch the lens, however.

Once you have the lens, set it off to the side while you prepare the bobby pin.

Open the bobby pin slightly so that the opening is a bit wider than usual. (You want the lens to fit snugly in-between the prongs, without snapping out). Carefully place a small drop of super glue on both sides of the largest notch in the bobby pin.

Using the tweezers, carefully place the lens into the large notch of the bobby pin, being careful not to get glue on the lens. Allow the glue to dry.

Once the glue is dry, place the lens directly over the camera lens on your tablet or smartphone. Attach masking tape to hold the bobby pin in place. Your makeshift-microscope is now ready to use!

Turn on your device and access the camera function.

You will need to adjust the magnification and blurriness of objects in two ways, first by using the zoom-in function of your device’s camera and second by adjusting how far away you hold the device from the object you are attempting to view. (This is similar to using the focus knob on a traditional microscope).

Use your makeshift-microscope to explore the microscopic world around you! When you are ready to look at specimens, use a specimen slide just as you would with a traditional microscope.

Watch the process here!

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