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Microscope Fun!

Last week, I remembered a very important lesson in school teaching..... Sometimes the simple things work the best in the classroom!

What do you do in high school biology on a day that is destroyed by homecoming interruptions?  Pull out the microscopes and let the kids have some fun!  I have a great 2-day lab that I have used in the past on the microscope.  I haven't used it in a few years because I have been favoring labs that are more "technology oriented" that use probes, graphing calculators, and spectrophotometers.  But I was reminded last week that sometimes the kids like the "old stuff" like a good old fashioned microscope.

During two days of homecoming activities at our school, I knew that my students would be bouncing off the walls, and we were running an abbreviated schedule each day.  I pulled out my old tried and true microscope lab and put the students to work.  They looked at all kinds of things and had a blast doing it.  I had forgotten how excited students can get about pond water!

My lab has 5 parts:

  • In the first part, students compare plant cells to animal cells.  I used onion skin as the plant cell and cheek cells as the animal cell.  
  • The second part is called "Cells with Chloroplasts."  Students looked at the leaf from the Elodea plant. 
  • The third part is called "Cells with Chromoplasts."  Students looked at the skin from an apple or a tomato.
  • The fourth part is called "Storage in Cells."  The students placed a bit of potato pulp on a slide, added a drop of iodine, and observed the very large starch grains found inside the cells.
  • The fifth part of the lab is "Fun with Pond Water."  My students had a blast with this.  I gave extra credit to students who brought in pond water samples, and we had many samples to choose from.
It was very gratifying to see the students have so much fun with such a simple activity.

Have fun teaching!!


  1. Microscope is a fantastic scientific instrument it is very useful for biology students.

    Thanks for this blog!!

  2. What makes a science experiment really fun is when you get to look through the microscope and see interesting things that are not apparent through the naked eye. I can only imagine their excitement when they got their turn to look in it. And I bet they also thought of different specimens to put on the slides, aside from those samples you've provided. Thanks for sharing!

    Kathy West @ Used Stryker