Parts of a Microscope: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Emily Lockhart

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

This lesson will show you all the parts of the microscope. You will be directed how to find each part and what each is used for. Understanding what each part does and how it works will allow you to see amazing small things.

Why Know the Parts of a Microscope?

If you look into a pond, you may see a few living things like fish, or lily pads, or maybe even some frogs. But, if you were to scoop a sample of that water and view it with a microscope, you would see thousands of microscopic life. Microscopic life is anything that is living that can be viewed only with a microscope - things like daphnia, amoeba or paramecium. This lesson will look at the parts of a microscope so you can learn how to view this tiny world.

Image of Dapnhia-Top Left, Amoeba-Top Right and a Paramecium-Bottom

What Is This Thing?

You may have seen a microscope on a TV detective show, but after this lesson you'll be a pro at knowing what each part does. So, let's take a look (pun intended)! Most important: always carry your microscope by the carrying handle. Picking it up by any other part will damage the microscope. Then plug it into an outlet and flip the switch to on. You will know your microscope is on because the light will be shining. The light sits at the bottom of the microscope and directs light up through an image towards your eye.

Labeled Microscope

Now, look through the microscope like you would a pair of binoculars - these are the ocular lenses (ocular means eye). Sometimes when you look it's very dark. Slide your finger down to the base of the microscope and look for a wheel that you can turn. This controls the light intensity coming through the image. Turn that wheel while looking through the ocular lenses, and you can see the light change. You should look for the carrying handle, ocular lens, light intensity control, on/off switch, and light before attempting to view anything.

Get a Microscope Slide

Once you feel comfortable with how to view, let's take a look at a slide. A glass slide is made for microscopes and is where you put your sample; it fits perfectly on the microscope stage. Put your slide on the stage and use the stage clips to hold down your slide. There are three cylinders above the stage, called objective lenses, and each gives a different magnification of your image. The shorter the lens, the further you are from your image and the less detail you'll see. By moving the revolving nosepiece, you can switch between the different objective lenses.

Objective Lenses

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