To say there have been many advancements in the field of microscopy since the development of the first compound microscope by Zaccharias Jansen in the late 16th century is an understatement. Jansen and his father, Dutch spectacle makers, built the first microscope by using three draw tubes with lenses inserted into the ends of the flanking tubes. They discovered a much larger image than expected; much larger than simple magnifying glass provided. The very first compound microscopes only magnified images between 6x – 9x. Microscopes of today can magnify images to the nanometer.
If any of your students have turned away when peering into a microscope, they may be turning away from science. Rather than being intrigued, some elementary students are adversely affected by what they see in a microscope. Unidentifiable squiggly things in a drop of tap water, the magnified eyes of a fly, the prickly legs of a garden spider…any or all of these could dampen a young child’s curiosity about the world around him.