Fascinating little rock pool critters

Walk in a Scientist’s Shoes is the name of the week-long summer program run by ANU at its Kioloa Coastal Campus. On the afternoon of 4 January it was raining, and Dr Melanie Rug and Associate Professor Alex Maier of ANU were presenting this talk subtitled “A microscopic journey through life in Kioloa rock pools”. So we went along.

Ten microscopes were set up on benches, with one more microscope connected to a PC to allow for multiple viewers. More like a tutorial than a lecture, the room was filled with young children, older children and their parents milling around a table with critters in dishes, along with material to put into a glass slide and take to your microscope to view. Despite it seeming quite crowded, it was surprisingly self-regulating with no long waits for a microscope … and there was always the PC screen to look at if you were having trouble handling microscope viewing with glasses on! It would have been good to have a bit more structured “lecturing” around what what was being viewed as the samples on the table rapidly became hopelessly muddled. That said, the biologists were both approachable and helpful if you did ask them a specific question. After an hour or so the younger kids had lost interest and it was possible to really learn something one-to-one about the crawlies in the local rock pools.

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