At the turn of the 17th century, people only knew what they could see with the unaided eye. Thanks to a trio of Dutch glassmakers, a basic magnifying glass was invented, which could magnify objects up to nine times. Many other inventors replicated the magnifying glass, always trying to make it a little better. Anton van Leeuwenhoek is typically credited with inventing the modern light microscope which we use today; however, Robert Hooke is credited with coining the term cell. In 1665 Hooke published Micrographia, a book describing observations made with microscopes and telescopes, as well as some original work in biology.
In this activity, students "pluck" one of their own hairs and view their hair in the same manner as scientists did throughout history - first with the naked eye, then a magnifying glass, then a microscope. Students "feel" what scientists felt throughout history as technology was developed over time. This is a simple activity, that enable students to build their microscope skills and is a nice introduction prior to discussions on cell structure and function.