Small Worlds: the Making of Microscopy

National Curriculum Science Area: Science

Key Stage: 3, 4 and post-16

Length of session: 1–2 hours

Maximum group size: 25–50 students

The Museum has a fine collection of microscopes: from the earliest types used by Anton von Leeuwenhoek and Robert Hooke in the 17th century to the more powerful microscopes of the 19th and 20th centuries.

This session is designed to give students an insight into the invention of the microscope in the 17th century, and how it opened up a whole new world of observations.

Students can see an original edition of Robert Hooke’s celebrated book Micrographia (1665) with its amazing illustrations of what was until then an invisible world, and learn about Hooke’s role in the early Royal Society. Students will gain insight into the historical significance of this new source of empirical observations, the sense of wonder that it instilled, and the theories that it inspired.

As well as seeing original instruments, they will use modern microscopes to investigate and explore ideas about scientific observation.

This session offers particular insights into how science works.

To view artwork created using microscopes and lenses in public events, see the online Making Micrographia gallery.