The Private Eye Kit

Students are encouraged to combine their drawing, creative writing, and observation skills while exploring the world around them more closely.

Illustration of a magnifying glass over a leaf
Illustration by Regina Wu

Kit Description

This kit comes with a set of magnifying loupes and various pre-collected specimens for students to explore. It also comes with petri dishes for students to collect their own samples to analyze. 


  • The loupe—a 5X magnification tool (36 loupe set)
  • Natural specimens to observe
  • 6-well plates & Petri dishes to collect specimens 
  • Private Eye® guidebook and posters

Kit Sign Up Process

NOTE: Please give us a minimum of two weeks’ advance notice so we can process your request.

1. Complete Online Demographic Form (only needs to be done once, skip if already filled out) Estimated numbers are OK.

2. Fill out the SCHOOL-YEAR KIT REQUEST form:

3: Confirmation Email: Once we have your items scheduled we will send a preliminary email summarizing your items and dates for pick up and drop off. 

Web Resources for Size & Scale, Powers of 10 Concepts

Wikipedia: Private Eye
Quick background on the Private Eye Project and some additional links.

The Scale of the Universe 2
Zoom from the edge of the universe to the quantum foam of space-time and learn the scale of things along the way! Developed by 14 year old twin brothers! Pleasant music, too.

Cell Size and Scale interactive
From the Genetic Science Learning Center, use this quick interactive to help gain a sense of the size and scale of cells and molecules.

Nikon Universcale-visual scale/magnification demonstration
From the nanoworld to the universe
— The worlds we measure using our infinite yardstick.

We are able to view all entities, from the microworld to the universe, from a single perspective. By setting images up with a scale, we are able to compare and understand things which cannot be physically compared.

Nikon's Small World Gallery
images from Nikon's photomicrography competition

Powers of 10 video (Eames)
Powers of Ten takes us on an adventure in magnitudes. Starting at a picnic by the lakeside in Chicago, this famous film transports us to the outer edges of the universe. Every ten seconds we view the starting point from ten times farther out until our own galaxy is visible only as a speck of light among many others. Returning to Earth with breathtaking speed, we move inward- into the hand of the sleeping picnicker - with ten times more magnification every ten seconds. Our journey ends inside a proton of a carbon atom within a DNA molecule in a white blood cell.

Cells Alive
Excellent collection of photos, videos, and interactives for learning more about cells. Try the cancer cell cam or the bacteria cam!

Zoom by Istvan Banyai (You Tube video made from the book)
fun example of size and scale

Metric system prefixes
Good graphic of metric prefixes. Search Google Images for many variations.