Our new biology lab

I may have mentioned that Tigger took a science class this term. Loosely based on the Grade 9 curriculum, it was 8 sessions of microscopy with a group of 8 kids. She loved it.

We have a microscope that my mom picked up somewhere (free or cheap) and she checked it out. Although not as good as the ones she used in her class, it is useable. But she didn’t get it out much, saving science for her class.

So, inspired by Theresa’s centres, I decided to set up a biology lab where she could just go in and do some work without having to get everything out and put it away afterwards.

biology lab

It is in my laundry room. That photo is taken from the doorway, the washer (a front loader) and dryer are on the opposite wall (with a sink between them). There are clothes lines strung above the counter you see there though we plan to replace them with that nice metal rack you can see leaning against the end cabinet. The cat litter is in the space under the counter but it doesn’t get used unless we have indoor cats visiting (we provide respite care for a friend’s cat when they go away) or when mine or forced to stay inside for several days. I’ve put a stool there to sit on while she works.

On the counter is a corn stalk with a cob saved from when we cleaned out the annex garden in the fall. It has all the parts. I’m not sure what difference it makes that it is dried out but I guess we’ll see. Also a binder of science notes from the class and a couple of books that I got for her: The World of the Microscope and The Complete Book of the Microscope, both from Usborne. The World of the Microscope has actual experiments and activities using the microscope whereas the Complete Book is mostly information with great illustrations. You can also see that I bought a supply of microscope slides and cover slips which are sitting in boxes at the back of the counter. The wooden box is the case for the microscope.

Tigger has added a book from the shelf to that set, another book of science experiments that was hanging around. I’m not sure that it is directly relevant to microscopy but it does show some interest on her part.

I’m starting to get even more comfortable with her level. Although she’s bright and capable of doing some high school level work, I’m thinking that aiming for a sort of middle school review and introduction is a good way to go. I’m not worried about pushing her understanding too far as I think we will come back to lots of subjects and do them in more depth later. But I want to go beyond some of the material that is clearly aimed at younger children and skimps on the science a bit. These books seem to hit the right spot. And this microscope is probably fine for that level though we’ll need a better one when we get to more advanced work in a couple of year’s time.

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4 thoughts on “Our new biology lab

  1. That looks like a great science station, and it sounds like a very nice and laid-back study. Carbon is jealous – he’s all about the microscope right now, but being only 5, I won’t let him touch it without me sitting right next to him.

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  2. Excellent! That looks very much like the set-up we had in our last house, laundry-room and all!
    I think free and easy access to a microscope is important. In my mind, access to science tools is just as important as free access to art supplies, math manipulatives, and varied reading material.
    And I think you are smart to aim for the middle-school level. IMHO it is the best level to build understanding and spark interest, so that if Tigger wants to dive deeper into a particular subject and take it to the high school level (or more), she can.
    We like those Usborne microscope books, too.

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  3. Ah, I wish we had more space! I’d love to have a set-up like this… but our “laundry room” is the grungy basement. Thanks for inspiring me, though… I’ll have to keep rethinking what works in this house and where we might have room for similar centers. I can’t wait to hear what Tigger decides to explore with the microscope at hand!

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