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Under the microscope with West science students

West College Scotland’s Greenock Science department have participated in a pioneering outreach programme in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, Oxford Instruments, the Royal Microscopical Society and Hitachi High Technology USA. The partnership has been formed to facilitate the use of a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), which produces images of a sample by scanning the surface with a focused beam of electrons.  Using this state-of-the-art equipment has allowed our Finnart Street campus based Science students to study hair samples, fibres, and animal skins in detail they could never have imagined.

As a member of the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), West College Scotland successfully applied for a loan of the equipment giving science students across all levels the opportunity to gain experience using the SEM, whilst our lecturing and technician staff have gained valuable skills and knowledge to further their professional development.   

Introduction to Applied Science student, Casey Canning, 24 from Port Glasgow said “Although it was quite daunting to be working with such an expensive piece of equipment, my apprehension soon turned to excitement after learning how easy it was to use, and we got to see some fascinating images”.

Curriculum Quality Leader, Sandra Spence said, “ We’d like to thanks Richard Philips at IRIS and Alex Ball at Natural History Museum for their support in making this project so successful for our learners.”

She continued, “Staff heard ‘Oh wow’ on so many occasions as students revealed images that gave them insight into a microscopic world.  It was fantastic to be able to extend their skills as well as their knowledge of microscopy.” 

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