Assessment With the Computer Microscope -- Technology in the Science Classroom

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					A digital microscope is the latest advent in the field of microscopy.
This device comes in very handy when the teacher wants to asses the
performance of students. Capturing of images has become simple as well as
fast, compared to other conventional methods such as practical
experiments. Performance standards are generally chalked out in the
education system. Sometimes it becomes difficult to justify and carry
them out well. The use of a digital microscope helps solidify the
existing performance standards of the school.
Digital microscopes such as the SmartScope provide one of the most
effective methods of assessing a students' ability to observe, study and
record various aspects of the sample under consideration, be it Biology,
Earth Science, Chemistry or Environmental Science. As Dr. Martin G.
Horejsi suggests"Instead of the conventional lab notebook drawing, the
students can capture a plethora of images authentically detailing their
journey into the micro world." (Horejsi, M. (2007). A picture's worth of
words: Digital imaging as a powerful assessment tool Conference
proceedings of the ED-Media World Conference on Educational Multimedia,
Hypermedia and Telecommunications, Vancouver, Canada).

The digital microscope can be used to take still images, which is a much
better way of presenting the data captured compared to conventional
drawing, which may not be very accurate. The digital microscope can be
connected using the USB port and images captured in an instant by simply
clicking the mouse. The device is simple to operate and can be easily
handled even by young students. The changes in the sample under
observation can be accurately noted, by taking an image at the right
time. This is a great way of documenting static samples.
The images can then be presented using PowerPoint. The images can be
zoomed in to get a closer look at different parts of the sample, helpful
in accurate and detailed study. The students can also present the images
to exhibit a particular process under observation. For instance, the
images in a chemical process such as confirmatory tests can be captured
at different stages, where the color or state of the substance, can be
easily taken at the correct time and depicted in a series of images on
the slideshow.

In case of studies involving recording the behavior of a sample over a
period of time, the digital microscope provides the option of videos and
time-lapse videos. For instance, a seed under examination for the process
of germination can be easily recorded using the SmartScope. The video can
be taken over several hours, where the result can be seen within a
minute. This can be done up to the limit of 180:1, that is, a video taken
over a time of 180 minutes can be seen in one minute. The changes can
even be measured using the measurement feature of the digital microscope.

Once the students have compiled the necessary data using images, video,
PowerPoint slideshows or completed worksheets, it can be easily archived
on a CD, thumb drive, emailed or posted online for others to view. This
compilation can also be assembled as portfolios, to verify and assess
students' progress. Use of digital microscopes such as the SmartScope
makes it easy for the teachers and for the school to make accurate
assessment, as it consumes less time and takes much lesser effort. This
time can then be utilized with the students to help them better
understand the concepts.

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