The first demonstration of an SEM to students is a rewarding experience. Whether it is the beginning of a course in instrumentation or just an illustration of the abilities of an SEM for “prospective users”, whether students have engineering or biological backgrounds, both graduate and undergraduate students are thrilled to see a “real electron microscope”. We thus have an easy task of only having to choose the right specimens to fulfill their anticipation and to present the right amount of information that will be easily absorbed and remembered for a long time.
Insects are the prima donnas of SEM imaging. We usually start our demonstrations with insects (Fig.1). Their multifaceted eyes, terrifying (at proper magnifications) mouths, exoskeletons, jointed limbs, and segmented bodies look so astonishingly alien under the microscope, so remarkably different from their familiar (to the naked eye) appearance, that insects unfailingly get the students thrilled and prepare them to absorb information.