Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pill Bugs under the Microscope

Did you know that pill bugs aren't insects?

I didn't know that, not until we covered pill bug anatomy for the girls' summer animal portfolio unit.

Say what you will about pill bugs, they're an easy, accessible, sturdy critter to catch and study and release. Butterflies are so much lovelier, but you've got to be so gentle with them, or take their tattered wings upon your soul. You've got to be gentle with pill bugs, too, of course, but anything that will roll up into a ball and let you roll it around in the palm of your hand is alright by me!

To study pill bug anatomy, I printed out an anatomical diagram of pill bugs from Enchanted Learning (Does that link work for you with my membership tag in it? If not, you can go to the Enchanted Learning site and search "pill bugs") for the girls to color--

--and then I sent the girls outside to collect some lucky pill bugs, so that we could match the diagram to their real, live anatomy. I swear, this Brock Magiscope is one of my absolute favorite homeschool supplies:

These remind me of the types of photos that bloggers take when they don't want to show their kids' faces. My kids just have a lot of hair!
The Magiscope works really well with both flat and 3D specimens, so we can just set a pill bug up on top of a slide, and let it hang out and crawl around while we find its jointed legs and uropods and cephalothorax and all that good stuff:
This pill bug is fine--Will tipped it upside-down to get a look at its jointed legs.
No pill bugs were harmed during this science project, although a great many were annoyed.


Unknown said...

We studied pill bugs last week too! I am going to purchase this microscope....thanks for sharing your techniques and tips! I really enjoy Craft Knife blog!

julie said...

What did you do for pill bugs? Will's also made a pill bug habitat (although it occurs to me that it's been a while since I've seen that habitat... gulp), and I'm thinking of helping them set up a choice chamber experiment, as well as the order of classification, nature sketch, report, and creative project for their portfolios.

I can't recommend the Brock Magiscope highly enough. It's a great basic microscope for elementary kids, and it's a great field microscope for any ages. I have the complete set of lenses, too, and although the higher resolution lenses are really fiddly, they work just as well as the lower magnifications.

Tina said...

We are thinking of studying bees soon. Emma is terrified of them, so I thought perhaps some education about them might make them less scary.

Thanks for the tip on the microscope.

julie said...

Has Emma ever been stung? My kids run around all summer practically naked, so it's a wonder they've each only ever been stung once.

Tina said...

Once about 3 years ago (she was 4). It flew into her sleeve and stung her in the arm pit a few times.

The odd thing is the bee phobia (melissophobia), didn't really start until this last year.