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The Microdiscovery Board

Approaches using the 30X microviewer

by Pam Pelletier

copyright by Microcosmos, Boston University 1988

Easy access to the microbial world can be found through the structured use of a microdiscovery board made by the students, along with a 30X microviewer. In this discovery-oriented setting, process skills of classification, observation, and description are emphasized. This is yet another opportunity for students to see again that there is a deeper, more complex view of all objects -- living and non-living -- on earth.


Time required:  Two class periods (or more)

Appropriate grade level: 6-12

Possible adaptations for other grades: Could be used for grades 4 and 5 with more focus and structure

Process Skills:
Creative Thinking/Expression
Following Directions
Verbal Communication
Use/Care of Equipment/Materials

Prerequisites: Allow students to become familiar with the microviewer for a few minutes.  Ask them to put in the batteries.  Have them look at their hands, their own clothing fabrics, and the boxes in which the microviewer came.

The Microdiscovery Board

Approaches using the 30X Microviewer

A wonderful, eye-opening introduction to the micro-view of the world can be achieved through the microdiscovery board and 30X microviewer.

The 30X microviewer is a pocket-sized microscope that enables students of various ages and abilities to enter the microscopic world with little difficulty and minor expense. It is a perfect tool for Microtrek explorations. Given a little time and practice, even the novice can learn to use the microviewer with clarity and confidence. It is easily carried into the field or used in the classroom on almost anything, although it is particularly appropriate for dry surfaces. The microviewer board is a simple, effective way to involve the students in the microscopic world using the microviewer.



OBJECTIVE: The student will understand that our view of the world around us is actually quite limited and the micro-view can dramatically expand our perspective.


  1. Each student will have practice making careful observations in order to answer questions;

  2. Each student will compare, contrast and draw conclusions based on the observations that he/she makes;

  3. Each student will follow directions and do independent research to construct a board for another student;

  4. Each student must be able to work with peers to communicate observations and data.


The microviewer board consists of 16 blocks arranged in a 4"x 4" pattern (see diagram). Three objects with some microscopically unifying theme are placed in a row (column 4 is left empty).

You can prepare a classroom set of boards if you desire, but it is not necessary. Instead, you can produce a small number of boards as examples for the students. Then give the students the opportunity to prepare a board for a fellow student to explore. It will take careful planning on the part of each student to produce a quality board with "microscopic unity."

Students can bring in materials from home, or the class can be taken on a search through and/or outside the school to find the materials necessary to complete the board.

The actual boards could be constructed from wood or plastic through the school's industrial arts department, or simply from heavy paper or cardboard.


Ask the student to examine the objects with the 30X microviewer and answer the following questions on the worksheet that is placed adjacent to the board:

  1. What characteristic(s) did you observe that all three objects have in common?

  2. What are some of the major differences among the objects?

  3. Find another object that "microscopically matches" the three objects that are already in the row and place it in column 4 next to the "microscopically similar" objects.

  4. Explain why you chose the item that you placed on the board.

Students repeat the process for the four rows of samples, answering questions and attaching objects to complete their boards.

In order to complete question #3, there must be a variety of objects available for each student. This could be easily accomplished by taking the students out "into the field" with their microviewers to gather the objects necessary to complete their own board.


The microviewer activities should not be rushed by the student or teacher. These activities, as described, should require one week of class time (5 class meetings).

Used well, this material could be an effective introduction to the world of the microscope and the structures and organisms that become visible only through its use.



Once completed, the students should be encouraged to share their answers and show their boards to other classmates.


Variations to this approach are many.


Answer the following questions for the samples that are located in the four rows on your microviewer board. Line up the board on the left side of this worksheet and answer in the blocks provided.

1.  What characteristic(s) did you observe that all three object have in common?

2.  What are some of the major differences among the objects?


3.  Find another object that "microscopically matches" the three objects that are already in the row and place it in column 4 next to the microscopically similar objects.


4.  Explain why you chose the item that you placed on the board.


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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998.

ŠEducation Development Center, Inc.