tol blue and "virtual plants"

Douglas P. Jensen djensen at HOLLINS.EDU
Wed Oct 8 16:16:06 EST 1997

At 10:36 AM 10/8/97 -0700, you wrote:

>The main
>problems I encounter with hand sectioning in my intro botany are the
>thickness and obliqueness of the sections - they can't evaluate the quality
>and I can't check every one.  They do, however, seem to enjoy making their
>own slides.  I used to think that students had trouble making the connection
>between prepared slides and live plants.  I came to abandon that doubt a few
>years back (thinking "of course they know these are real plants, what else
>could they believe?") - until this year.  A student actually asked me a few
>weeks ago if these slides were "real."  

Hi Willy,
        This is kind of scary to hear, but I can see how a student might get
the impression that the slides are not real.  
        I suspect my classes are much smaller than yours, and I can check
many of the slides as the students make them.  When doing anatomy, I try to
have a combination of prepared slides and hand sections, and I demonstrate
the sectioning so they can see how to do it.  Then I leave my specimens in
the dishes if they want to use them.  Most students prefer to try
themselves.  If they cannot get a good section, I'll help them.  They can
also work in pairs to compare notes. 
        If I get time (not lately), I like to get herbarium or live
specimens of the plants they are cutting up.  Some students know that
Helianthus is sunflower, some can figure it out by the name, and others
don't know what a sunflower is.  The specimens give them something more
concrete to grasp, and I tend to think this helps them know they are looking
at real plants.
        For many of my anatomy labs, I will cut the class short and take the
students outside to collect things to cut up.  They seemed to really enjoy
the lab when each of them got a twig, sectioned and stained to see the wood
structure, then I went over each slide on the video monitor.


Douglas P. Jensen, Assistant Professor of Biology
PO Box 9615
Hollins College
Roanoke, Virginia 24020
djensen at

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