Required Practical 01: Microscopy

About this practical...

In this practical, you will learn how to use a light microscope correctly. You will be able to label all of the parts and explain what they do. You need to be able to prepare a plant and animal cell slide and describe this method. You will have an opportunity to make accurate scientific drawings of the cells that you see including labels. You should also take measurements that will allow you to calculate sizes using the combines magnification of the two lenses.


1. Carefully collect your microscope and return it to your bench, ensure that you carry it with both hands.

2. Select the lowest magnification lens, apply the slide and move it so that it is close to the lens.

3. Focus the slide by moving the platform/slide AWAY from the lens until it is in focus.

4. Identify and draw and label features seen and carefully note down the magnification of the lenses to allow you to calculate image size later.

5. Repeat for other slides at other magnifications.

NOTE: You may be permitted to create your own slide of a thin layer of onion which needs to be stained. If you collect cheek cells, it is very important that you follow your teacher's instructions carefully.

Safety & Managing Risks

Usual lab rules must be followed: bags and stools tucked away. Notify your teacher immediately if there are any breakages. Carefully follow instructions for the disposal of slides. (Broken slides are very sharp, microscopes are heavy and must be carried safely). For more detailed information, please consult CLEAPSS.

Technician notes:

Light microscopes

Microscope slides and cover slips

Spring onions

Iodine stain for onion cells

Virkon disinfectant in bucket for cheek swab slides

Ear buds for cheek swabs

Methylene blue stain for cheek cells

Bucket for used slides

This page was updated on: 8th January 2022