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How to teach basic microscopy to your kids

Last Updated: 01.04.20


If you are a microscope enthusiast, you are most likely interested in finding a way to make your kids pick up this hobby as well. Let’s be honest, we all remember the thrill of purchasing a new microscope for plants or the beauty of placing the first sample on the stage an observing it with carefulness and a sense of wonder.

Because we get how you probably feel, we have decided to lend you a helping hand. This following guide was designed with the purpose of giving suggestions and recommendations about ways in which you can help your kid become curious about the microscopic world.


Understand how kids think

As you probably already know, children usually have a short attention span and are inclined to lose interest in a topic that does not stimulate their attention constantly. Therefore, if you want your kid to enjoy microscopy it might be best to use this information to your advantage.

For instance, you can work together and show him/her how various object look under the magnification of a microscope. To make this exploration experiment even more interesting, we recommend that you use the unit to examine something that looks totally different to the naked eye than under the magnification of the device.

By doing so, he/she will start to grasp the fact that all objects have a different side to them that is not visible to everybody. Among the most interesting samples that you can inspect together are volcanic rocks, the various patterns on an insect’s wing, slices of onions.

Even more so, it might be time to invest in a new awesome microscope for beginners that he/she can use in his/her spare time. Keep in mind that some models might be a little too complicated. What is a dissecting microscope used for? The short answer – mostly for studying biology, but it also does wonders when it comes to jewelry making and electronics repair, so it is not a type designed for young children. Its build is much too complex. 



Fun experiments that you should try


The spider web

One of the most fun science experiments that are effortless to conduct but that are also very thought-provoking is the spider web examination. In order to carry it out, one needs a piece of spider web,  a glass slide that comes provided with a coverslip, clean nail polish and a USB digital microscope.

If you want this experiment to be a success, it is best that you find fresh spider web as it looks better and more curious under the microscope.  Then, put a layer of clear nail polish on the slide. Next, by using asset of tweezers, carefully place the web on the slide.

Furthermore, make sure that you press the coverslip on top of the web so that the sample is protected. Last but not least, put the slide under the microscope and observe its details.


The cheek swab sample experiment

If your kid is fond of medical science, it might be a great idea to play around with a cheek swab and sees how it looks when magnified. To carry out this experiment, you will need a toothpick, methylene blue, a glass slide that has a coverslip and, of course, a microscope.

The first thing that you have to do is to find take a sample of one’s cheek by gently scraping the toothpick on one’s side of the cheek.

Then, take the toothpick and rub it on the middle section of the slide. If the sample that you’ve created is wet, let it dry for a few minutes and then add a drop of methylene blue. During this process, it is advisable that you wear protective gloves.

Put the coverslip on the sample and then study it under the microscope. In order to make the process even more intriguing, it might be a good idea to start with a low magnification ratio and hen to work your way up to more powerful objectives.


Having fun with onions

Another experiment that might make your kid interested in science and in microscopy is one that involves that observation of the membrane of an onion.  The materials that you are going to need are an onion, a glass slide, methylene blue, a pipette, tweezers, and a knife.

This experiment is a bit more complicated than the previous ones due to the fact that it involves the use of a wet mount slide. In other words, this time, the sample being observed will be placed in a drop of liquid. So, the first thing that you have to do is to place drops of water on the selected glass slide.

Then, after peeling the onion, cut it with the knife. Find the membrane that is placed between the onion’s layers and take part of it by making use of the tweezers. Furthermore, place the membrane on the slide and put a drop of methylene blue on it (this latter step is optional).

Next, take the coverslip and lay it on the sample. When doing so, try to avoid creating bubbles as this will hinder your view of the sample. Lastly, place the sample under the microscope and start analyzing it.


Final tips and tricks

The few experiments that we’ve mentioned are just the beginning of an adventure that you and your kid can start together. If you want to find more gripping activities that you can enjoy together, we suggest that you go online.

There are countless forums and sites that are filled with many experiments that you are prone to find equally delightful. So, don’t waste any more time; go online and let the fun begin!



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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