How to Use a Microscope: Optics, Observing, and Drawing Techniques

How do the lenses work to make objects larger? We’re going to take a closer look at optics, magnification, lenses, and how to draw what you see with this lesson. Here’s a video to get you started:

Here’s what you do:

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18 Responses to “How to Use a Microscope: Optics, Observing, and Drawing Techniques”
  1. Aurora says:

    Hi Andie! If the lens is touching the slide, it can crack it, so be careful! Always start with the stage at its lowest position (or the nosepice at the hightest) and them start moving it as you look through the scope. If you find it doesn’t focus, make sure you’re on the lowest magnification first before you start trying to move the stage up. The higher the magnification, the closer the lens will be to the sample.

    Make sure your sample isn’t too big, or it won’t work in the microscope. Microscopes are designed to work within a certain range, so your sample cannot be too large or your slide too thick, or the laws of physics/optics will cause it not to be in focus. Using a microscope takes skill, so here’s where you are developing that skill! If you can’t get an image it’s usually because the microscope isn’t working right or the user didn’t prepare the sample right. Try taking a specimen as thin as possible (like a moth wing or an onion membrane and also something larger in thickness, like a 1″ square sheet of paper. Focus on it with low power and if you see an image (even if it’s blurry, then the scope is doing ok.

  2. robertdangelo says:

    Hi Aurora, it’s Andie. I’m trying to look at a mouth smear (you can look it up on the internet if you need a picture), and I can see the nucleus and the organelles, but that’s all I can see. If I try to go up on a higher magnification, the lens and the slide touch (I don’t want that). Is this supposed to happen or am I doing something wrong.

    Andie D’

  3. Aurora says:

    Sure! There’s a great explanation of oil immersion with some directions here:

  4. Lizanne Coetser says:

    Hi Aurora, do you have instructions for the Oil immersion method?



  5. Aurora says:

    Of course! You can view my personal recommendations here: Is that what you’re looking for?

  6. Michele Monastra says:

    I’m having the same question. I’m deciding if I want to use this curriculum and need to see what type of microscope is required or suggested.

  7. Aurora says:

    I’ll have my team connect with you right away!

  8. Michele Crosby says:

    Just planning out my son’s curriculum and we will be working on the sixth grade level, but it states that I am not allowed access to the “how to use a microscope” which is within the 6th grade life science unit. Can you help with this?

  9. Aurora says:

    Oh no – that doesn’t sound good. I just checked things over here and it’s working on my PC using windows and IE, FF, and Chrome. Which device and browser are you using?

  10. Michelle Stevens says:

    None of the videos are working for this unit! I’ve tried all of them and they are all overlapping onto the words and refusing to play! HELP ME!

  11. Aurora says:

    It just means that you can either skip Unit 16 Lesson 4, or you can watch the videos in this section anyway so you know what to do when you get one. Either way works, and it’s not super-critical at her grade level to get one. I did include instructions for making a lower-power one using two handheld magnifying lenses that might be of interest to you.

  12. Nosheen Ayyub says:

    My daughter is starting 6th grade and new to your program – we don’t have a microscope !
    What does that mean for studying life science with Super Charged Science ?

  13. Aurora says:

    I will have my team get right back to you about your account!

  14. Judy Sekulow says:

    Hi trying to plan lessons for my daughters 7th grade life science. After the first experiment, it looks like we are to move on to how to use a microscope but the page is telling me I don’t have access. Please let me know how to proceed.

  15. Aurora says:

    Can you send over a good picture of your microscope? I might have some suggestions.

  16. Carolyn Halvorsen says:

    My microscope is way different than that so I don’t know how to make it work. It just won’t focus for me.

  17. Aurora says:

    You need an electron microscope to see atoms – they cost thousands of dollars, so this isn’t something you can do at home. 🙂

  18. Sophia Pitcher says:

    Hey Aurora,

    Is it possible to see atoms with the oil lens, or are they too small???


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