Questions from those who have already applied
Before your session
How many specimens can fit in the ESEM? How big can they be?
- The stub upon which the specimens are mounted is 5 cm in diameter. A picture of a sample stub can be seen on the ESEM Basics page. Large insects like caterpillars and moths may have to be dissected to fit on the stage. In cases such as this, tell us which parts of the insect are important to you, so we don't cut them away.
How should we prepare them?
- See the Specimen Preparation section for how to prepare and ship your bugs. Most importantly, make sure they are dead!
When should we send them?
- As soon as possible, once your experiment time has been scheduled. Larger specimens take longer to dry out; if we don't get them in time, then we can't use them.
To whom should we send them?
- See the Contact section.
I'm new to Bugscope and don't know what to expect. How can I prepare?
- Read up about our electron microscope so the students know how it differs from the light microscopes that they're familiar with.
Teachers and students can review previous sessions' chat transcripts (with images), to get a feel for how a live session runs.
How will my computer need to be set up?
- See our appendix on computer requirements.
After your session
Where are my chat records and images?
- Everything related to your session is stored on your members page. Find that by clicking on your proposal number in our directory of participants.
Where is the feedback form I am supposed to fill out after my live session?
- Submit your feedback here.
Questions from those thinking about applying
Who sees my application form?
- Your proposal will be available on the Bugscope website as an example for others applying. Everything but the teacher's personal information will be shown. See an example.
How long before I know if my application has been accepted?
- If your application is successfully submitted the form will disappear and be replaced with a confirmation message saying "Application Submitted." A confirmation email will also be immediately emailed to the email address you entered. If you don't get that email, please contact us to troubleshoot an issue with spam filtering, etc.
Once we've received your application, it takes one to two weeks for us to review it, make a decision, and contact you to schedule the session.
How much does it cost to participate?
- Nothing! Bugscope is free.
My group isn't part of a public school. Can we still apply?
- Yes. Although we give priority to schools, we also encourage science clubs, museum programs, boys & girls clubs, etc., to apply. If you are uncertain if your group would qualify, just email us.
We don't live in the United States. Can we participate too?
- Yes. You can always follow along as a guest during another school's session. (Simply login as a guest, with no password.) We accept applications from other countries, although due to time zone differences it may not be feasible to run a session when your students are in class. We are in the Central Time Zone, GMT-06:00.
We participated in Bugscope before. Can we reapply?
- Yes! We're happy to have repeat participants.
Who do I contact if my question isn't answered here?
- Just email us. We'll answer you as soon as possible.
Can we put images from the Bugscope web site on our own pages?
- Members: members may use the images they have acquired without restriction. Members should ask permission from the other participating schools before borrowing images from other participants out of the database.
- Non-members: visitors may borrow acquired images out of the database provided they credit the originating school and ask for permission from the school first. All other images on the Bugscope web site, including the 3D and colorized images, are copyrighted by the Beckman Institute and the University of Illinois. Contact Bugscope for reproduction rights.
Who runs Bugscope?
- See our credits page.
Interested in your own live session? Apply Online.
Appendix A: Choosing and Shipping Specimens
Over the years we've received all kinds of specimens
in all kinds of conditions. While we try
to accommodate anything that you send us, here are some tips to
ensure that your specimen reaches us in good condition, and that your view of it is as
varied and useful as possible. Even so, if your specimen has suffered
in transit, we can show a few of our own specimens
so your students will still have something to look at.
- Choose bugs smaller than 1 cm. All your bugs have to fit on a 4.5 cm disc.
If you are interested in observing a particular species,
and if it is small enough, send two examples so we can mount one
right side up and the other one upside down.
- Specialized arthropods such as ticks are
more interesting than generalized species such as cockroaches. Arthropods that
live in a limited range of environments, or those which are parasites, often have
interesting body modifications to adapt to their particular environment.
- Fresh specimens look better than ones that have been dead for months on a window sill.
Don't ship live bugs, because they can stick to the inside of the container.
Let it dry out for a day or two in a large jar or in a container with a mesh cover.
- Dry arthropod specimens are very fragile.
Wrap toilet paper loosely around the specimen,
then put it in a film canister, small box, or pill vial.
Don't pack it in cotton, because cotton fibers snag on legs and pull them off.
- Teachers should have some familiarity with the type of specimens that will be
observed, so that the Bugscope viewing session is not the first exposure of the students to those specimens.
See our Entomology Primer to find a link
to your particular type of arthropod and learn more about the specimen.
These resources can guide students to which structures they'd like to observe.
Appendix B: Mailing Instructions
Send all postal deliveries (insect specimens, newspaper articles about your experiment, etc.) to:
c/o Scott Robinson
B650L Beckman Institute
405 North Mathews Ave
Urbana IL 61801 USA
Alternate Contact Info
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +1 (217) 265-8164.
Send us a postcard! If you found Bugscope interesting or useful to you or your classroom, drop us a snail-mail postcard!
Perhaps something from your town or the area of the world where you live? Just send it to the address above.
Appendix C: Computer Requirements
Computer Bugscope runs in your web browser, so your computer can run Windows, Mac OS, or Linux.
Web Browser We recommend Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple's Safari. Internet Explorer works too, although with less functionality.