Leeuwenhoek’s Microscope in the Classroom

An article from CBE – Life Sciences promotes Leeuwenhoek for teaching science history in high school. In the effort to motivate an interest in the history of science, this study from Brazil utilizes replicas of the Leeuwenhoek microscope to connect the past to the present. The abstract:
The history of science should be incorporated into science teaching as a means of improving learning and also to increase the students’ understanding about the nature of science. In biology education, the history of microscopy deserves a special place. The discovery of this instrument not only opened a new and fantastic microworld but also led to the development of one unifying principle of biological sciences (i.e., cell theory). The microscopes of Leeuwenhoek and Hooke opened windows into the microworld of living organisms. In the present work, the knowledge of these themes was analyzed in a group of students beginning an undergraduate biology course. Our data suggest that the history of microscopy is poorly treated at the secondary school level. We propose a didactic activity using a replica of Leeuwenhoek’s microscope made with Plexiglas and a lens obtained from a key chain laser pointer or from a broken CD drive. The proposed activity motivated students to learn about microscopy and helped them to appreciate scientific knowledge from a historical perspective.
Included with the study is supplemental material with instructions for the construction of replica Leeuwenhoek microscopes.
Lenira M.N. Sepel, Elgion L.S. Loreto, and João B.T. Rocha Using a Replica of Leeuwenhoek’s Microscope to Teach the History of Science and to Motivate Students to Discover the Vision and the Contributions of the First Microscopists
CBE Life Sci Educ 2009: 338–343. [Abstract] [Full Text]

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