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 lets teachers everywhere give their students 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 through a web browser.
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 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 our tutorials and FAQs. We can also schedule a test session so you can try it out beforehand. Afterwards, you can forever return to our website to view every chat line, image, and sample you—and every other classroom—have collected. Since 1999, Bugscope has run almost a thousand sessions with hundreds of schools.
Insects are the right size and work well in the microscope. They're easy to find in playgrounds 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