MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- The BioBus, a mobile laboratory space whose lab is powered by solar panels, came to Pocantico Hills School last week.
Students in grades one to six were engaged using microscopes to observe the tiniest crustaceans and other creatures that become larger than life on connected screens. It was a hands-on experience with students boarding the bus through the day and being instructed by BioBus scientists on how to use the microscopes to see the inside of Daphnia, a shrimp-like animal found in ponds and puddles across New York City and the country.
This millimeter-long crustacean has a transparent shell so students saw the inner workings of a live animal, including a beating heart, twitching muscles, contractile digestive system and more. Students also used microscopes to observe and compare familiar insects in an unfamiliar way. Under the microscope, they could see bugs have hair and spines and other traits that are invisible to the naked eye. The local ecology offered lots of specimens for students to compare.
The program was organized by science and STEM teacher Mario Suarez and sponsored through the school’s community partnership with Hitachi. The BioBus is a full microscope lab with $100K worth of scientific equipment. The front of the bus features three stations with microscopes connected to screens; the back portion is used for the demonstrations.