This activity is designed for advanced biology students, though it does repeat some of the elements used in the “e” lab they performed in basic biology. This advanced version of the lab begins with a discussion of the different types of microscopes and the basic function of the light microscope. For advanced students, much of this will be review. Students are then tasked with learning how to focus the objectives and how to measure the viewing field of their microscope using a clear ruler.
Students also learn to work with slides by creating a wet mount of cotton fibers and then staining the slide with iodine or methylene blue. Finally, students use stereomicroscopes (dissecting microscopes) to view larger specimens and calculate the field of view.
Overall, this activity provides a more in-depth study of the microscope and allows students to pace themselves and do their own exploration with various specimens. I often follow up this lab with a performance evaluation where they must show me that they have mastered these techniques.
Grade Level: 11-12 | Time Required: 2 – 3 hours
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