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The Tabletop Microscope: Making a Name for Itself in STEM Education

In 2010, following on the footsteps of the Obama Administration's initiative to make America a leader in science and math, Change the Equation (CTEq), a CEO-led NPO, was started to help boost the country's STEM education. One hundred ten private companies from different industries and private and academic organizations were among the groups that volunteered to take part. Naturally, CTEq aims to improve the quality of STEM education, raise interest in science and technology among children, and educate talented people within the STEM fields. The NPO wants to act as a powerful counterweight to the growing disinterest in science and strengthen the United States.

The main role of CTEq administrators is to utilize the ideas of member companies, draw up a roadmap for the entire program, formulate strategies, evaluate each part of the program, and share successful case studies with member companies. In addition to these duties, the administrators also create guidelines for member companies, provide educational materials, and draw up plans for a variety of events. Since CTEq member companies participate from the standpoint of giving back to the community, the individual activities they engage in are all done on a voluntary basis as part of their outreach programs.

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HTA's Outreach Program is active across the USA


In 2011, Hitachi, Ltd. became a member of CTEq, and as a member of the Hitachi Group, Hitachi High Technologies America expanded the scope of its science education program focusing on the tabletop microscope. Support until then had centered on institutes of higher education, but moved to broader fields, first to secondary education and then onto community colleges, universities, museums, science exhibitions, and science events. It was through this cooperation with Hitachi, Ltd. and promoting CTEq's outreach program, that their STEM outreach program took shape. In fact, HTA engaged in outreach programs in 85 locations from September 2011 to June 2012. This was four times more than had been the case in the previous year.


Hitachi High Technologies America Supports Science Education

The National Nanotechnology Institute (NNIN) is a comprehensive partnership between 14 universities funded by the National Science Foundation. NNIN has cutting edge facilities and supports research into nanoscale science and engineering while also conducting a variety of science education programs for elementary school students through to adults. Among those programs, HTA's TM3000 Tabletop Microscope has been an important tool in allowing people to experience the microscopic world. It had an enormous impact at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, where it was used in a game matching microscopic and enlarged images. The TM3000 has actually given us a productive time at the Science Camp and other science events. We are also trying to teach about the TM3000 to educators, starting with teachers, because we want to see it put to use in classrooms during science classes. During the annual general meeting of the National Science Teachers Association and the Science Teachers Association of Texas in March 2012, we worked with Hitachi High Technologies America to give a demonstration of the TM3000 and used it to hold a photo contest (see photo below). We were able to present an opportunity to a large number of educators to find out for themselves what a vital tool this is for nanotechnology. I felt the exercise was extremely worthwhile as many of those who took part were surprised at how easy it was to use the TM3000 and said that they felt steps should be taken to ensure children could have more contact with such cutting edge technology. Moving forward, we want to focus on raising the quality of the STEM Education Program and continue our important partnership with Hitachi High Technologies America.

Dr. Nancy Healy
Coordinator, NNIN Education
Education Coordinator, Georgia Institute of Technology

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Cheryl Thomasson, (left) of Murray Country School District in Georgia, was the winner of the photo contest. She holds up her winning photo, an enlargement of the surface of a polystyrene cup. Dr. Nancy Healy (right) presented the award.

The Perfect Tool to Promote Science

Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation (Hitachi High-Tech) released the revolutionary TM-1000 Tabletop Microscope more than seven years ago. Despite being an electron microscope, it was small enough to place on top of a desk, had a magnification of 10,000 times that clearly surpassed that of optical microscopes, and was simple enough that even a child could operate it after a brief demonstration. The fact that even a child could operate it was one of the reasons why the tabletop microscope has been regarded as the perfect tool for promoting science education.

Starting in Japan, Hitachi High-Tech’s efforts to promote science education span the globe. Hitachi High-Tech has been using the tabletop microscope in science education events for children since 2008, when it started loaning them out to places such as the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation and Japan Society of Applied Physics.

In 2010, the company successfully produced an even more compact model, the TM3000, capable of magnification up to 30,000 times. Toward the end of that same year, "nanoTruck – Meeting Place Nanoworlds" (an initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) contacted Hitachi High-Technologies Europe (HTE) through its project agency with the intention of initiating a cooperation.

The nanoTruck is a trailer equipped with items such as small-scale experiment devices and science-related exhibits, mostly designed for interactive use. This truck visits locations across Germany with the aim of inspiring interest in cutting-edge technology among citizens and heightening the desire to learn about science. HTE, which supports the aim of the nanoTruck, agreed to provide a tabletop microscope.

In Tokyo the following year, Hitachi High-Tech also supplied a tabletop microscope for use in the Christmas Lectures held by the British Council, Britain's official organization for promoting international exchange, where it was used to observe the microscopic structure of a semiconductor during an experiment.

It is in these ways, the Hitachi High-Tech Group is using the revolutionary tabletop microscope as part of its efforts to promote science and respond to the requirements of countries around the world to raise science technology literacy.

Next page: Getting Children Excited about the Possibilities of the Future

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A photo taken from the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation's event, "No Pain, Even if Given a Needle! Showdown between a Painless Needle and Mosquito under a Microscope" held in October 2011.

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An image of a mosquito's head as seen with the tabletop microscope.

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Scenes from the 22nd Annual Royal Institution Christmas Lecture 2011.

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