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Blood Race: Looking at Blood Circulation under the Stereo Microscope

Blood circulation is important to the body since this is how blood passes the nutrients your body needs to its different parts and how all the wastes are carried away before they could do harm. Try placing two fingers on top of your wrist and feel your pulse beating. Heart and pulse rate are good indications of blood circulation, but to better understand the process, you could look at the path that blood travels in the veins to transfer all the nutrients that a body needs to its different parts by using a dissecting microscope.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to cut yourself up to see how blood circulates around your body. All you need is an animal with translucent skin so that the veins and capillaries would be perfectly visible under the microscope. A goldfish or a small frog will do. If you’re going to be enlisting the help of your pet goldfish with this stereo dissecting microscope activity, make sure that you cover the fish up with cloth or cotton that you have first soaked with water. Limit your examination to ten minutes at the most, although fishes could stay out of water for as long as twenty minutes as long as you take care to pour some water on its head every minute or so. Frogs are amphibians and could survive out of water for long periods of time, so you won’t have to keep them wet all the time. Before you begin examining your subjects, though, you need a pinning board where you could mount them before looking at them under the stereo dissecting microscope.

What you need to do is get a wooden board that measures about two to three inches. Cut a hole of about a half inch diameter near an edge of it. Then take your subject, wrap them up in cloth (soaked in water if you’re going to examine a fish) and tack the cloth onto the board with some thumbtacks. Make sure to place the tail of your fish (or the web in the foot, if you’re examining a frog) on top of the hole that you have made in the board. Pin your thumbtacks into the board, carefully surrounding the tail or foot so that the heads of the tacks are holding in place the parts of your subject that you want to study under the dissection microscope.

Now examine your subject using a dissecting stereo microscope. Your subject should be small enough to fit onto the board that you have made earlier and onto the microscope stage. Now look at the tail through the microscope lens, and see the blood vessels that go the same way as the patterns on the tail fin. Between these vessels radiate smaller ones that are called capillaries. Notice the way blood moves from the larger vessels that come straight from the heart and spread out into the capillary bed. The blood then travels through the capillaries back to the heart. It would be better to study a frog with this kind of activity since the web in its foot is really thin and it’s easier to study the vessels there than it would be with a fish.

If the fish swims more slowly than usual when you return it to water, take a hold of its tail and try dipping it in and out of the water to get some water in its gills and help it return back to normal.

Looking at blood vessels and capillaries under the stereo dissecting microscope would not only be a fun activity and a chance to bond with your pet fish, it will also help you better understand the way blood circulates around the body and the path that it takes starting and ending in the heart.

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