Note: Students will be estimating sizes. In the case of Volvox, several different sizes are shown in the image. The sample answers are “ballpark” guidelines. Part One: Using scale bars



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What’s the Size of What You See?
Sample Answers

In this activity, you’ll learn how to use scale bars on images and movies, and find out how to calculate the size of specimens you examine with your compound microscope.
Note: Students will be estimating sizes. In the case of Volvox, several different sizes are shown in the image. The sample answers are “ballpark” guidelines.

Part One: Using scale bars

1. Determining the size of a red blood cell

Observe the image of red blood cells. Notice that the scale bar says “50µm,” which is 50 micrometers or 0.05 mm. Estimate how many blood cells could fit end to end along the scale bar. Now, use the equation below to calculate the size of an individual blood cell:



Your calculations:

Diameter of one red blood cell: 0.008 mm (Don’t forget the size unit!)

2. Determining the size of a Volvox colony

Observe the image of Volvox globator. Notice that the scale bar says “150 µm,” which is 150 micrometers or 0.15 mm. Estimate how many of the Volvox can fit along the scale bar. Does one entire Volvox fit, or does only part of one fit on the scale bar? Show your work below.


Your calculations (include the correct equation for this problem, as modeled in the first problem):

Diameter of one Volvox: 0.3 mm

3. Determining the diameter of a sea urchin sperm

Observe the image of sea urchin sperm. Notice that the scale bar is 50 µm. Determine the diameter of the head (round portion) of a sea urchin sperm.


Your calculations:

Diameter of the sea urchin sperm: 0.003 mm
continued

4. Finding the size of a sea urchin embryo

Observe the image of the sea urchin embryo. Notice that the size of the scale bar is 50 µm. Keeping this image available, watch the sea urchin embryo cell division movie on the same page. Calculate the diameter of a sea urchin embryo at the one-, two-, and four-cell stages. Show your calculations below.


a. One cell—your calculations:

Diameter of single-celled sea urchin embryo: 1.67 mm

b. Two cells—your calculations:
Same as “a.“
Diameter of two-celled sea urchin embryo: __________

c. Four cells—your calculations:
Same as “a.”
Diameter of four-celled sea urchin embryo: __________

d. As the embryo divides, does it become larger, stay the same size, or become smaller?
Stays the same size.

e. What do your calculations tell you about the size of the individual cells of the early sea urchin embryo? Do they increase in size as the embryo divides, decrease in size, or stay the same?
The individual cells must be getting smaller, since there are four cells in the same size embryo as at the one-cell stage.

Note: For Part Two: Finding the size of microscope specimens, sample answers aren’t provided because answers will vary depending on the particular microscope.



Exploratorium Microscope Imaging Station What's the Size of What You See?


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