The Bugscope project provides free interactive access to a scanning electron microscope (SEM) so that students anywhere in the world can explore the microscopic world of insects. This educational outreach program from the Beckman Institute's Imaging Technology Group at the University of Illinois supports K-16 classrooms worldwide.
Bugscope allows teachers everywhere to provide students with the opportunity to become microscopists themselves—the kids propose experiments, explore insect specimens at high-magnification, and discuss what they see with our scientists—all from a regular web browser over a standard broadband internet connection.
You sign up, ask your students to find some bugs, and mail them to us. We accept your application, schedule your session, and prepare the bugs for insertion into the electron microscope. When your session time arrives, we put the bug(s) into the microscope and set it up for your classroom. Then you and your students login over the web and control the microscope. We'll be there via chat to guide you and answer the kids' questions.
Before each session, teachers and students can prepare by reading through our tutorials and FAQs. We can also schedule a test session so you can try it out first if you want. After your session, you can forever return to our website to view every chat line, image, and sample you—and every other classroom—has collected. Bugscope has been active since 1999 and has supported roughly 300 sessions with more than 200 different schools.
Why BUGscope? Insects are the right size and work well in the microscope. They're easy to find on nearly every playground or backyard. They have great detail at high magnification that most people have never seen. They fit into most schools' science curriculums. And finally, because kids are fascinated by bugs!
Take the tour: An Overview