The Kid Should See This

Pond Scum Under the Microscope

For most of human history, people thought of all life as being plants and animals. And the fact that species existed that were so small that you couldn’t even see them was completely unknown. That all changed in the 17th century when a Dutch fabric designer named Antonie van Leeuwenhoek invented the most powerful microscope the world had ever seen.

pond slime in a 17th century microscope
Microbiologist Sally Warring has a replica of this microscope, as well as a modern field microscope that she uses in her own work. She’s gathering green pond scum and slime from the Harlem Meer in New York City’s Central Park to observe and share some of the incredible unicellular organisms that van Leeuwenhoek first observed in 1674.

This is Pond Scum Under the Microscope, the first episode of the American Museum of Natural History’s Pondlife series. The video’s original music and sound effects by Ramin Rahni are a delight.

Warring at the Harlem Meer
At, Warring reminds us that “there is a jungle in every drop of water. With a microscope you can go on a safari.” Want to explore the waters where you live this summer? We’ve heard solid reviews about the inexpensive and smartphone-friendly Carson MicroFlip 100x-250x LED and UV Lighted Pocket Microscope.

Also: Warring’s popular Instagram account shares the ‘invisible’ unicellular creatures that she finds around NYC and beyond.

Watch more Warring on this site: Hunting for microbes in Central Park’s murkiest waters.

Plus, don’t miss Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible and how do you find water bears (tardigrades) in the wild?

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