Microscopes in Middle Schools Project

image of microscope

As part of its wide-ranging education program, the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), based at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, is partnering with the Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) and the UH STEM Pre-Academy Initiative to distribute digital video microscopes and related supplies (valued at $1775) to Hawai‘i’s public middle schools statewide.

The oceans are of vital importance to life on Earth: they regulate climate, provide food and oxygen and cycle essential chemical elements and compounds. Marine microbes are the drivers of these ocean processes. For example, phytoplankton (plant-like plankton) forms the base of the marine food web and produce over half the oxygen that we breathe. However, phytoplankton and other microbes can be difficult to conceptualize because they cannot be seen without specialized equipment.

So, how do you get students interested in learning about something they can’t even see?

One way is to start with something they can see! If you go up one step in the food web from phytoplankton, you’ll find zooplankton. Zooplankton are a diverse group of organisms that feed upon smaller phytoplankton or other zooplankton, or are parasites. Some zooplankton spend their entire lives drifting in the sea. Others only spend part of their life cycle as plankton and then grow up to become fish, crabs, corals or lobsters. Zooplankton can be easily caught and studied right from shore. After completing this workshop, teachers will be able to collect, observe and study plankton with their students through inquiry driven projects.

Participating schools that received a microscope (as of 02/2015 )

  • Aliamanu Middle
  • Ānuenue
  • Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle
  • Ewa Makai Middle
  • Hālau Kū Māna
  • Hana High & Intermediate
  • Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science
  • Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind
  • Highlands Intermediate
  • Hilo Intermediate
  • Honoka‘a High & Intermediate
  • Iao School
  • Innovations
  • Jarrett Middle
  • Kahuku High & Intermediate
  • Kailua Intermediate
  • Kaimuki Middle
  • Kalama Intermediate
  • Kalaniana‘ole Elementary & Intermediate
  • Kanuikapono
  • Kanu o ka ‘Āina
  • Kapa‘a Middle
  • Kapolei Middle
  • Kawaikini New Century
  • Kawananakoa Middle
  • Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha
  • Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u
  • Ke Kula ‘O Samuel M. Kamakau
  • Kea‘au Middle
  • Kealakehe Intermediate
  • Kihei Charter School
  • King Intermediate
  • Lahaina Intermediate
  • Lana‘i High & Elementary
  • Lokelani Intermediate
  • Maui Waena Intermediate
  • Mililani Middle
  • Moanalua Middle
  • Molokai Middle
  • Nanakuli High & Intermediate
  • Niu Valley Middle
  • Olomana
  • Pa‘auilo Elementary & Intermediate
  • Pahoa High & Intermediate
  • SEEQS – School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability
  • Stevenson Middle
Teacher using video microscope.
  • University Lab School
  • Volcano School of Arts & Science
  • Wahiawa Middle
  • Waiakea Intermediate
  • Waialua High & Intermediate
  • Waikoloa Elementary & Middle
  • Waimea Canyon Middle
  • Waimea Middle
  • Waipahu Intermediate
  • Washington Middle
  • West Hawaii Explorations Academy
  • Wheeler Middle

Workshop locations and dates

  • Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i
    31 January 2015 at West Hawai‘i Explorations Academy
  • Honolulu, O‘ahu
    25 October 2014 at Waikīkī Aquarium
  • Kahului, Maui
    11 September 2014 at Iao School
  • Lihue, Kaua‘i
    24 June 2014 at Nuimalu Beach Park
  • Hilo, Hawai‘i
    12 April 2014 at Mokupāpapa Discovery Center
  • Ho‘olehua, Moloka‘i
    18 Jan 2014 at Moloka‘i High School
  • Honolulu, O‘ahu
    17 November 2012 at UH Mānoa
    Download the syllabus (PDF)
  • Honolulu, O‘ahu
    05 May 2012 at UH Mānoa
    Download the syllabus (PDF)
  • Lihue, Kaua‘i
    14 April 2012 at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School
    Download the syllabus (PDF)
  • Hilo, Hawai‘i
    03 March 2012 at Mokupāpapa Discovery Center
    Download the syllabus (PDF)
  • Kahului, Maui
    11 February 2012 at UH Maui College
    Download the syllabus (PDF)
  • Honolulu, O‘ahu
    03 December 2011 at UH Mānoa
    Download the syllabus (PDF)

News links

Photo of a girls with plankton net.


Supplies provided

Foram specimen collected off Waikiki on 01 March 2012. (Photo credit Alyssa Gundersen, Sea Grant).
  • Motic DM-143 Digital Stereo Microscope (with spare bulbs)
  • 80 µm mesh plankton net
  • 2 tow lines (~15 m and ~3 m lengths)
  • 2 Collection jars (one weighted, one plain) with lid
  • 53 µm plankton sieve
  • 500 ml wash bottle
  • 2 Petri dishes
  • 3 dissecting needles
  • Plankton ID book: A Guide to Marine Coastal Plankton and Marine Invertebrate Larvae by DeBoyd Smith and Kevin Johnson


Resources