Belleville High School recently had the opportunity to experience the Hatachi High Technology TM3030 Plus Scanning Electron Microscope for a few days.
Hitachi Technologies in America through their “HTA: Inspiring STEM Outreaches” program provided the electron microscope for several area schools.
The program introduces the scanning electron microscope to students in Southeastern Michigan who attend K-12 schools in underserved or rural high schools.
The goal of the program is: interest and introduce students to scientific inquiry into nano materials and technology, preparing them for entry into fields of nanotechnology and nanoscience, where these instruments are everyday tools.
Dr. John Mansfield, a recent retiree from University of Michigan’s Michigan Center for Materials Characterization, delivered and installed the equipment. He trained the teachers at BHS and provided example samples for use in the classes. Students were provided training from BHS teachers and were given the opportunity to develop their own projects in microscopy.
Dr. Mansfield is also the editor-in-chief of the “International Journal of Microscopy and Microanalysis.”
Belleville Advanced Program (AP) Biology students were able to use the Hatachi TM3030 Plus Scanning Electron Microscope for six days, first exploring its use and capabilities, and by day two transitioning to inquiry-based investigations.
Every student worked the different aspects of the process from devising the investigations, to collecting and loading samples, to driving the SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope).
Some investigations conducted included: structural comparison of pollen samples, duck feathers to chicken feathers, insect wings, and quantitative and structural comparison of hair from a student and her mother (a cancer survivor) to determine the effects of chemotherapy.
The AP Chemistry class used the SEM for two days. The class discussed the purposes and uses of the instrument and its functionality. Students recently completed a unit on periodic properties and subatomic structure and wondered how scientists had understood periodic trends in the elements and how they determined what the elements looked like.
Using the SEM, they looked at a penny and the size of Abraham Lincoln as an exploration of the SEM’s capabilities. They then analyzed the penny for its elementary composition utilizing ionization and radiation peaks for specific elements.
Many of the seniors in the classes said they found this to be a wonderful opportunity and were inspired to seek additional opportunities at the university level to continue their explorations into the nano world.
Taking part were Peter Mackie’s AP Biology class and Anthony Tedaldi’s AP Chemistry class.
Special Projects Coordinator
Van Buren Public Schools
Editor’s Note: Dr. Mansfield is looking into the possibility of getting five school districts together to join in to buy the electron microscope so it can be shared by their students permanently.