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Achoo! Pollen does more than make us sneeze
General Science
Physical Science
Education Level
Middle School

Harness the power of a scanning electron microscope to let students see that pollen is more than just the yellow dust that makes us sneeze sometimes! Students will watch an introductory video to learn basics of pollen biology. They will then learn to use scale bars to interpret size on microscope images, thus meeting math as well as science standards. Using that knowledge, students will extract the sizes of pollen grains from scanning electron microscope images, and see the wide range of pollen shapes and sizes. They will also learn to make inferences about allergic potential and modes of dispersal of different kinds of pollen. After these class activities, student really engage by collecting their own pollen samples and sending them to either the Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network (RTNN) lab or the Remote Access Instrumentation for Nanotechnology (RAIN) network where images will be taken of the samples with a scanning electron microscope. For this part of the activity, RTNN will send you the images and interact with the students (video/skype/in-person) to answer questions and analyze their own pollen images or RAIN can do a remote SEM session.

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