The light fantastic

Home » Biology » The light fantastic

The light fantastic

Posted on

The story

The Nikon Small World competition first began in 1974 and the results from the latest batch of entries were announced this week.  This annual event seeks out the latest and greatest photomicrographs (photographs taken using a light microscope).

Teaching idea

Looking at these images can be a great way to add interest to a lesson on light microscopy with both KS4 and KS5 classes.

The Small world website is a great resource for searching out interesting images to share with a class.  It has a quiz which asks you to identify what some images are of.  This is a little too difficult for most students but the idea can easily be adapted by choosing some of the images and coming up with your own choices.  For example, the New Scientist page shows the top 20 images from this year’s competition.  Is the image that reached 16th place a) a bunch of fibre optics, b) stigmas from a flower or c) an octopus tentacle?

You can also use some of the images to ask the students to classify them as animal or plant cells (this can also be used with KS3 classes).

Also on the website is another great resource – the Universcale.  This interactive website takes you through an amazing journey from the Universe down to the microworld to show the scale of the different measurements we use.  This is a great resource to help students to understand what we really mean by a light-year or micrometre.


The New Scientist webpage which contains the top 20 images from this year’s entries.

The Small World Website

The Universcale