While poking around the Internet resources provided by my science text I found a really fun page at the University of Queensland web site. The Aussies have put their electron microscope to use for the secondary classroom with a game they call “Mystery Images – What is it?.” A good way to introduce students to the world of the microscopic, or provide them with access to images that they normally would not be able to explore, the mystery images are of everyday objects from velcro to pollen and fingerprints. Not so ordinary images include highly magnified butterfly eggs, tapeworms, and fish parasites. The real engaging feature of the site however, is the ability to send in your guesses as to what the mystery images are. You need an e-mail address in order to submit a guess (you can just have the class enter one guess under your e-mail) and once 10 correct answers have been received the scientists reveal the correct answer.
My students were excited to start guessing and submitting their answers when they saw the site, and after a brief discussion about observation they started to make some pretty educated guesses (which really impressed me) based on the shape of the objects.