How to Prepare Slides for a Light Microscope

Written by judith willson Google
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How to Prepare Slides for a Light Microscope
Preparing your own slides is not difficult. (microscope kit image by PHOTOFLY from

The first things you will probably view under a basic light microscope--a microscope that uses visible light--are items on pre-prepared slides. To make the most of a microscope at home or school, you need to be able to prepare your own slides. This approach allows you to look at things you find--from leaves to butterfly wings to your own cells to the tiny creatures living in a sample of pond water--without damaging the microscope.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Glass slides
  • Pipette
  • Tweezers
  • Specimen jar containing the pond water or other liquid you wish to look at
  • Cover slips
  • Plastic tray
  • Kitchen paper

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  1. 1

    Place everything, including the liquid you want to look at, on one side of a clean plastic tray covered with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper.

  2. 2

    Remove a single slide from the batch, touching only the edges, and put it in the middle of the tray.

  3. 3

    Use the pipette to suck up part of the liquid.

  4. 4

    Squeeze one drop of the liquid into the centre of the slide.

  5. 5

    Use the tweezers to pick up a cover slip and position it over the drop of liquid. Work at an angle to prevent air bubbles from being trapped. The cover slip will flatten down the droplet and protect the microscope lens.

  6. 6

    Position your slide under the microscope and use the knobs to focus.

Tips and warnings

  • Pick up dry items, such as hairs, leaves, or insect parts, with the tweezers and position them on the centre of a slide. A drop of plain water and a cover slip help hold it in place and protect your microscope.

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