What is it?

Students collect bugs and mail them to us. Then we let the class examine their bugs in fascinating detail, as they operate our scanning electron microscope from their own web browsers. At the same time, our experts answer their questions via online chat. This free educational outreach is run by the Imaging Technology Group at the University of Illinois's Beckman Institute.

How does it work?

You sign up, ask your students to collect some bugs, and mail them to us. We accept your application, schedule your session, and prepare the bugs for viewing. When your session time arrives, we put the bugs into the microscope. Then, from your web browsers, you and your students control the microscope and ask us questions via online chat.

Before each session, you and your students prepare with our tutorials and FAQ. We can also schedule a test session so you can try it out beforehand. Afterwards, you can revisit our archive of every chat line, image, and sample you—and every other classroom—have collected. For the past twenty years, Bugscope has run almost a thousand sessions with hundreds of schools.

Why bugs?

Insects are the right size and work well in the microscope. They're easy to find in schoolyards and backyards. They have great detail at high magnification that most people have never seen. They fit into most schools' science curriculums. And finally, kids are fascinated by bugs!

Take the tour: An Overview