RemoteScope: A new real-time digital microscope accessible over the WEB
J.Paul Robinson and Steven Dunlop
School science programs in biology account for about 50% of all high school science. Biology is a required subject in 7th and 8th grade classes and a required class in all high school across the USA. The study of biology is dependent upon many aspects of microscopy. The per-unit-cost of the microscopes available to students is in the $300-$700 range. Many are old and optically poor.
Experimentation in science is a crucial component of learning. It is also part of the excitement inducing process whereby the uncertainly of the result allows the student to hypothesize and frame a question and relate results to their initial hypothesis. The BioScope Initiative, an NSF funded project our group is developing, seeks to create multimedia excitement by providing an environment that to some extent is familiar to the student and whereby they can use computer technologies of great familiarity to them in a process of discovery. While it achieves a goal of assisting kids to acquire knowledge, there is no substitute for experimentation. RemoteScope provides what BioScope cannot: a real experience of doing experimentation on a real microscope, even though students do not physically have the microscope in their classroom. They will, if they desire, have a small video screen where they can actually see the microscope operating in real time. They will have control of the microscope and participate in the excitement of doing simple but effective experiments. Images will be saved and downloaded to their computers and each individual will retain ownership of their images. Remotescope is capable of saving very high quality digital images at multiple magnifications. The system can be booked in advance to allow classroom participation, and eventually the website www.remotescope.com will contain many example images for kids to download. Remotescope will be an effective tool linking schools to quality science technology.