Resource Type:

Online Resource

Participation Details:

  • Registration/Application required



  • 217-265-5071


Parent Program(s):

  • Imaging Technology Group




Content Area(s):


What is Bugscope?

The Bugscope Project provides students anywhere in the world with free interactive access to a high-resolution scanning electron microscope (SEM), permitting them to explore the microscopic world of insects as they converse (via chat interface) online with microscopists and entomologists. This educational outreach program from the Imaging Technology Group at the Beckman Institute, part of the University of Illinois, supports K-16 classrooms worldwide.

Bugscope allows teachers everywhere to offer their students the opportunity to become microscopists themselves  the kids can propose experiments, mail ‘bugs’ to the Project, explore their bugs at high-magnification, and discuss what they see with the scientists  all from a standard web browser over a normal broadband internet connection. Students need not collect and send their own insects/arthropods; the ‘bugs’ may be provided by the scientists at the Beckman Institute.

How does it work?

You sign up, ask your students to find some bugs, and mail them to us. We accept your application, schedule your session, and prepare the bugs for insertion into the electron microscope. When your session time arrives, we put the bug(s) into the microscope and set it up for your classroom. Then you and your students login over the web and control the microscope. We'll be there via chat to guide you and answer the kids' questions.

Before each session, teachers and students can prepare by reading through our tutorials and FAQs. We can also schedule a test session so you can try it out first if you want. After your session, you can forever return to our website to view every chat line, image, and sample you—and every other classroom—has collected. Bugscope has been active since 1999 and has supportedroughly 300 sessions with more than 200 different schools.

Why BUGscope? Insects are the right size and work well in the microscope. They're easy to find on nearly every playground or backyard. They have great detail at high magnification that most people have never seen. They fit into most schools' science curriculums. And finally, because kids are fascinated by bugs!

Partners Within the University of Illinois:

  • Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology

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