This experiment allows you to see protozoa, tiny-single celled organisms, in your compound microscope. While I can go in my backyard and find a lot of interesting pond scum and dead insects, I realize that not everybody has a thriving ecosystem on hand, especially if you live in a city.

I am going to show you how to grow a protozoa habitat that you can keep in a window for months (or longer!) using a couple of simple ingredients.

Once you have a protist farm is up and running, you’ll be able to view a sample with your compound microscope. If you don’t know how to prepare a wet mount or a heat fix, you’ll want to review the microscope lessons here.

Protozoa are protists with animal-like behaviors. Protists live in almost any liquid water environment. Some protists are vital to the ecosystem while others are deadly.

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Download Student Worksheet & Exercises

Here’s how you can grow your own to look at under a compound microscope:

1. Leave a glass of water out overnight, to get rid of chlorine. If you are in a hurry, use filtered water (not distilled) instead.

2. Add dead grass to the glass of water. Stir.

3. Add yeast to the glass. Stir again.

4. Allow the glass to sit overnight in a warm place. For best results, let grow and ferment for several weeks.

5. Each day for a week, observe a sample of water and/or grass under the microscope, after the first 24 hours.

6. Sketch the protozoa you see, and note if there are more or less of a certain type as time goes on in your science journal.


  1. What is a cell?
  2.  Why are cells so small?
  3.  What is a protozoa?
  4.  How does it develop?


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