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 4-5cm 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 in order to get them to fit on the stage. In cases such as this, it is good for us to know in advance which portions of the insect are important to you. We do not want to cut away something you are interested.
How should they be prepared?
- Please see the Specimen Preparation section for information on how to prepare your insects for shipping. The most important thing we ask: please make sure they are dead!
When should we send them?
- As soon as possible after your experiment time is scheduled. Larger specimens require longer drying out periods, and if we do not receive them in time to desiccate them, we cannot use them.
To whom should we send them?
- See contact section
I'm new to Bugscope and don't know what to expect in a live session. How can I prepare?
- We recommend reading up about our electron microscope so the students can appreciate what's special about it compared to the light microscopes they may be familiar with. Teachers are advised to read our page on classroom integration for tips on how to organize the students for most efficient use of time during the live session. Teachers and students are encouraged to review the chat transcripts (with images) of previous sessions to get a feel for what happens during a live session.
How does my computer need to be setup for the live connection?
- Please see our appendix on computer requirements.
After your session
How do I find the images and chat records from my live session?
- Everything related to your live session is stored on your members page. You can find your members page by clicking on your proposal number in our directory of participants.
Where is the feedback form I am supposed to fill out after completing my live session?
- You can 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 and 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 you 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 addres you entered. If you don't get this email, please contact us to trouble-shoot an issue with spam filtering, etc. After we have received the application it can take 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. We give priority to schools, but science clubs, museum programs, boys & girls clubs, etc., are encouraged to apply. If you are uncertain if your group would qualify, send email to the above address.
I don't live in the United States. Can we participate too?
- Yes. You can always follow along as a guest whenever a school is running the ESEM. (Simply login as guest; no password is required.) We also accept applications from foreign countries, though due to time zone differences it may not be feasible to run the ESEM when your school would be in session. We are located in the Central Time Zone (GMT-06:00). And of course the Bugscope web site and tools are in American English. (Though not everyone in our group is monolingual!)
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?
- If your question is not answered here, you may send email to Bugscope with your questions or concerns. A member of the Bugscope team will answer 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 Buscope 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?
- Please see our credits page.
Interested in your own live session? Apply Online
Appendix A: Specimen Preparation Instructions
The Bugscope team has dealt with a very wide variety of specimens
which have been shipped to us in various shapes and conditions. While we will try
to accommodate anything that you send us, here are some suggestions and ideas for how to
ensure that your specimen reaches us in good condition and that your view of it is as
varied and useful as possible. Also note that if your specimen has really suffered
badly in transit we will usually mount a few of our own specimens along with your
specimen on your scheduled day so that your students will always have something to look at.
Some tips for specimen selection and shipping:
- It's best to send bugs that are reasonably small, less than a centimeter long. The
structure on which the specimens will be mounted is a 1.75in (about 4.5cm) diameter
disc, so whatever we get
must be able to fit within a 1-inch-diameter circle. If you are interested in observing
a particular species of arthropod, and if it is small enough, you might consider sending two
examples so that we can mount one with its dorsal side up and the other with its ventral
- Specimens look better if they're fresh, not if they've been lying dead in a window sill for a
long time. It's easier for us if you do not ship us live insects. If you enclose a live or
freshly dead specimen in a small space, such as a film canister, it may decay and deteriorate or
even stick to the inside of the container. Thus, it is better to let the specimen desiccate
in a large jar or in a container with a mesh cover before packing it and sending it in a smaller
- Remember that arthropod specimens are very fragile, especially if they are dry. The best way
to pack a dead insect for travel is to fold tissue paper (toilet paper works also) loosely and
carefully around it and then put that in a film canister, small box, or pill vial. Please don't
pack your specimen in cotton because cotton fibers often tangle around antennae, legs, and other
projecting body parts and will thus damage these delicate parts.
- Some of the Bugscope staff believes that the more specialized arthropods (e.g. ticks) are much
more interesting to observe than more generalized species such as cockroaches. Arthropods that
live in a limited range of environments or those which are parasitic may be more likely to have
interesting body modifications that allow them to function well in their particular environment.
- It is also suggested that teachers 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 the specimen
being observed. Check out our Entomology Primer to find a link
to your particular type of arthropod and learn more about the specimen. These online resources can
be useful in giving the students an idea of which structures they would like to observe initially.
Appendix B: Mailing Instructions
Have all postal deliveries (insect specimens, newspaper articles about your experiment, etc.) sent to:
c/o Scott Robinson
B650L Beckman Institute
405 North Mathews
Urbana, IL 61801 USA
Alternate Contact Info You can call us at +1 (217) 265-5071 or email.
Send us a postcard! If you found Bugscope interesting or useful to you or your classroom, drop
us a snail-mail postcard! We like hearing from you, and one of us (Daniel)
enjoys collecting stamps and pictures from around the world. Perhaps something
from your town or the area of the world where you live? Just send it to the
Appendix C: Computer Requirements
Computer Bugscope runs in your web browser, so you can connect whether you run Windows, Mac OS, or Linux.
Web Browser We recommend that for your live session you use Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple's Safari. We also support Internet Explorer 7 and later — although with some reduction of functionality — for those unable to use one of the recommended browsers.