How to Use a Microscope: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Emily Lockhart

Emily has taught science and has a master's degree in education.

This lesson looks at how to effectively use a microscope. We'll look at the parts of a microscope and find out how, based on the lenses, we can figure out how much an object is being magnified by.

A Window to Another World

When you look outside, you can see many living things, like trees, people, dogs and even some bugs, with your own eyes. But what about all the living things that are too small to see? The microscopic world is a vibrant, unseen realm that can be seen using a microscope. This lesson will explore how to use a microscope so you can see these tiny things.

Examples of living things found using a microscope

How to Use a Microscope

Set your microscope down on a flat surface, and grab a sample that you'd like to look at. Put your sample on a microscope slide, which is a glass rectangle that holds your sample. The slide fits on the stage of the microscope and is held down by clips. A light will shine up through the image. When you look through the top of the microscope, you can see a magnified image of your sample. This lesson focuses on compound light microscopes, which pass light through different lenses.

The part of the microscope you look through is called the ocular lens. Inside this lens is a high-powered magnifying glass. The image you see looking though the ocular lens is magnified 10 times its normal size. You'll find other lenses on your microscope called objective lenses. By using the nosepiece, you can switch between these lenses.

Your microscope could have anywhere from one to five of these lenses. A microscope is called a compound microscope if it has many objective lenses. The objective lenses magnify your sample even more. Your sample will be less magnified by a shorter objective lens. The longer the objective lens, the more you magnify your sample.

Parts of a microscope

Magnification Means Multiplication

To find out how much you're magnifying your object, you would multiply the magnification of the objective lens by the magnification of the ocular lens. So, if the objective lens is 10 times magnification and your ocular lens is 10 times magnification, you're looking at your object 100 times larger than it is normally.

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