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The projection screen in the dimly lit auditorium was ready and an online chat window was open on the computer screen. Computer experts and entomologists were ready on the other end. One by one, students filled up the rows of seats eagerly anticipating what was going to happen next. Each student was asked to close their eyes. Ms. Hadley asked them:
“How many of you really know what an insect looks like? Think of the ant you found crawling on the grass, the ladybug you found by your window, or the insects you learned about in class. What is on the insect? What color is it? Does it have antennae? Does it have a stinger?” With a click of the computer mouse, the first image captured via the Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM) at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) was projected on a large screen. The students then opened their eyes.
“Wow! Whoa! Cool! Gross!” These are just a few of the reactions when these images were projected onto the large auditorium screen to a group of 75 second graders.