We have organized an educational series for children in grades K-5 (and their teachers!) by partnering with the Creative Connections Camp. The camp meets three times a year, and a visit to our lab has been built into the regular curriculum. Our visitors experience first-hand how we do research and learn about some of the exciting new science we are discovering. The topic of the most recent visit was: “Virus size matters in how sick we get!”
The campers join us for the following activities:
1) A pipetting activity where our visitors get to work with fluorescent colors, wear gloves and other protective equipment, and get to experience first-hand what working as a scientist in a lab is like. For this they earn a ‘Junior Pipetter Certificate’.
2) The campers get a tour of different kinds of microscopes – dissecting microscopes, a phase-contrast microscope, a home-built total internal reflection fluorescence microscope, and an electron microscope.
Home-built Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence Microscope. A practical application of ‘Lego-building skills’ at a high level.
Students view a movie recording taken on this TIRF microscope showing fluorescent virus particles fusing with membranes. They also receive coloring pages assembled from electron-microscope images of virus particles.
How big is a virus? Scaling down from an electron-microscope image of virus particles that were magnified 100,000 times!