Can you help me show my children some bacteria in our ancient microscope, and maybe go on to perform Science upon them?
We homeschool our three boys (ages 7, 9.5, 12.5) and we'll be talking about the Black Death next week. I'd like to use this opportunity to branch off into science a bit, discuss infectious diseases, basics about bacteria, etc. It would score major points with my boys if they got to see Real Live Bacteria through our microscope.
Unfortunately, my track record with the scope is pretty bad, as in, "I've never seen anything smaller than a grain of salt with it." It's my old Edmund Scientific student microscope, pretty much exactly this one
. 10x eyepiece, rotating selector with 5x, 15x and 30x objectives, swivel mirror "light source" and rack & pinion focuser. I honestly don't know if the problem is my scope's magnification range, or sample prep, or operator stupidity.
Ideally, I'd like to be able to prepare a few samples of bacteria taken from, say, somebody's nasal mucus with a Q-tip; culture said bacteria for a while so that the population density works in our favor; view the samples successfully, maybe even ID some of the wee beasties?; and then perhaps expose the samples to different substances (lemon, garlic, soap, control?) and see whether they affect the bacteria.
Oh, right, the questions:
- Is my scope the right tool for the job, or can it be made so?
- How does one successfully culture bacteria?
- Viewing tips?
- Other suggestions from those more experienced than I?
- What safety practices should I model?