Make sure you’ve completed the How to Use a Microscope activity before you start here!
This is simplest form of slide preparation! All you need to do is place it on the slide, use a coverslip (and you don’t even have to do that if it’s too bumpy), and take a look through the eyepiece. No water, stains, or glue required.
You know that this is the mount type you need when your specimen doesn’t require water to live. Good examples of things you can try are cloth fibers (the image here is of cotton thread at 40X magnification), wool, human hair, salt, and sugar. It’s especially fun to mix up salt and sugar first, and then look at it under the scope to see if you can tell the difference.
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Here’s what you do:
1. Pull a hair from your head and lay it on a slide. If it’s super-curly, use a bit of tape at either end, stretching it along the length of the slide. Keep the tape near the ends so it doesn’t come into your field of view when you look through the microscope.
2. Lower the stage to the lowest setting and rotate the nose piece to the lowest magnification power.
3. Place the slide on the stage in your clips.
4. Focus the hair by looking through the eyepiece and slowly turning the coarse adjustment knob. When you’re close to focus, switch to the fine adjustment knob until it pops into sharp view.
5. Open your science notebook and draw a circle. Sketch what you see (don’t forget the title and mag power!)
6. When you’re done, lower the stage all the way and insert a new slide… and repeat. Find at least six things to look at. We’re not only learning how to look and draw, but hammering a habit of how to handle the scope properly, so do as many as you can find.
Don’t forget to check the windowsills for interesting bits. Use baby food jars or film canisters to collect your specimens in and keep them safe until you need them.
TIP: If you want to keep your specimen on the slide for a couple of months, use a drop of super glue and lay a coverslip down on top, pressing gently using a toothpick (not your fingers) to get the air bubbles out. Let dry.