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MICROSCOPY  - - Page 1 of 2 pages (Goto Page 2)
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Koeller Illumination



Better Microscope







Pond Water


Simple Microscope







Identify Organisms

Tutorials - How to use a microscope



Introduction < Start here

What can I do with a microscope?

My First Microscope - Good

Microscope as above plus
Digital Camera for viewing on a computer screen - Good


Advanced Binocular Microscope - Better


Trinocular Research Microscope - Best


Note: The microscopes above are not toys. They are serious student/research scientific quality, best value microscopes. Real cheap plastic toy microscopes are a waste of money.  Unfortunately, a cheap microscope is worse than none.  It discourages the learning process and always disappoints. Investing in a good quality microscope is well worth the higher initial cost and will bring many years of enjoyment.


Microscopy (My-Cross-Co-Pea) is the study and use of a microscope.  The first step in building a microscope laboratory is to learn as much as you can from reading books and magazines, and talking to others with similar interests.  Go to your nearest library and see what materials they have.   New books from the book section of this web site is another great place to find new books and book reviews.   Second hand shops and local book sales often offer used school textbooks and laboratory experiment manuals.  Several shareware programs and CD ROMS are available to assist your study efforts.  Take your time.  Pay particular attention to all cautions regarding safety.  All children must have adult supervision and there are no exceptions!  Have plenty of water and paper towels available for clean up.  Keep your work area neat and clean at all times.  Keep a detailed and dated lab journal of all your activities. Purchasing department store microscope sets designed for children is a safe way to start but very limited in capability.  

Microscope techniques: http://www.mrothery.co.uk/module1/Mod 1 techniques.htm


This Paramecium has been lightly stained with neutral red dye, a type of biological stain that can be used with living cells. Neutral red turns bright red in the presence of acid. The many small red dots seen in this subject are lysosomes, the bodies that produce the acids and carry the enzymes needed for digestion. The larger red spheres are food vacuoles--filled with bacteria, digesting in the bath of acids and digestive enzymes delivered by the lysosomes.

Paramecium image courtesy of


SIMPLE MICROSCOPE (You can build) - A detailed set of instructions for building an excellent microscope is available at The Fun Science Gallery.  Instructions are available in English and Italian.  

Toy microscopes are not recommended because they give children the false impression of not being a serious scientific tool - because they aren't - but may be ok for very short term use for getting younger folks interested in microscopy.  A good microscope is always a better choice.

BETTER MICROSCOPE (You can buy) - Adults will want to expand their lab with a larger new or used student or research microscope.  See the recommended choices above. The microscope objective (the lens just above the specimen to be observed) is the most important element of your microscope.  Don't skimp on costs here.  Don't be overly impressed with lens POWER.  An overall magnification of x50 to x200 (and occasionally up to x400) will be all the power you will need for many observations. The mechanical stability, light source, and the ocular (eyepiece) lens pieces also play a factor in the microscopes overall performance.   If you can afford it, get a binocular microscope to lessen eye strain during prolonged observation periods. Even better get a tri-nocular for microphotography. 

WHAT CAN I DO WITH A MICROSCOPE?First, explore safe items such as various foods; celery, potato starch, plant stems, hair strands, coins, and fabric fibers.   Handle slides carefully.Next, invest in a variety of pre-mounted slide sets.  The preparation of fine permanent slides takes hours when you know the proper procedures.  If you are not expert in this area you will become very disappointed in your first attempts at mounting permanent slide specimens.  It takes a lot of practice and expertise. Adults may want to try viewing live pond water microorganisms with a special "well" glass slide.  Be cautious here to  keep everything sanitary and sterile.  Handle all unknown waters with surgical gloves.  Small cuts on your hand could permit harmful unwanted bacterial, viral, and other microorganism entry.  To be safer, stick with inanimate specimens.  Be careful in handling any life forms.   It took a wonderful force of love to create it. The object of your effort is to observe and appreciate our wonderful microscopic world, learn more about how complicated it is, how it works, and to wonder why.  What's it all about?  See  "MICROSCOPE BOOK REVIEWS" for two outstanding microscope book recommendations. 

Some accessories for your microscope are shown below. 


Microscope Tutorials

Olympus Microscopy Resource Center: Interactive Java Tutorials
Molecular Expressions Microscopy Primer: Virtual Microscopy
Microscopy Tutorials
Microscope Tutorial - How to Use Your Olympus CH30
Using the Microscope: Basic Tutorial: Part 1: Introduction and ...
Nikon MicroscopyU: Interactive Java Tutorials - Phase Contrast ...
Cell and Tissue Structure

Koeller Illumination - Microscope Alignment and Setup

[PDF] Page 1 Basic Microscope Alignment: A Brief Tutorial Douglas W ...
Links within our site and to other useful microscopy sites
Nikon MicroscopyU: Interactive Java Tutorials - Microscope
Olympus Microscopy Resource Center: Specialized Microscopy
Light Microscope Alignment
[PPT] Basic Illuminating Light Paths and Proper Microscope Alignment
Invitrogen - Molecular Probes - Catalog of Cell Biology Products
Cells and Microscopy
[PDF] Understanding Transmission Electron Microscope Alignment: A Tutorial

[PDF] Four new Penicillium species having Thysanophora -like melanized
[PDF] Advice on choosing the right slit lamp
Technical Instrument San Fransisco
Biophysical Journal -- Tsai et al. 74 (6): 3282
Links within our site and to other useful microscopy sitesThe Slit Lamp Biomicroscope
[PDF] Advice on choosing the right slit lamp


What is the Gram Stain site I    method? What am I looking at?  Gram Stain site II

How to use biological stains - Stain Protocols and Methods 
Stain Chart
Gram Stain History 
Gram Stain Tutorial
Gram Stain Examples
Cell Differentiation by Gram Staining
Various Stain Examples

In the beginning you may see an object under the microscope and wonder what it is.  Here is a site that will help you get started learning various common objects you might see: A Visual Aid   http://www.buckman.com/eng/micro101/micro101.htm  You may wish to explore the excellent microscopy primer at Florida State University. FSU http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/index.html


Complete Book of the Microscope
by Kirsteen Rogers (Editor)







QUESTION:  How do you identify and classify  pond water organisms?  
ANSWER:  There is a web site called the "Virtual Pond Dip"    that might help get you started.  Now look at this web page for a table of data about common pond plants and animals ( DATA TABLE).  The data for this table (credit the Biology Department of King's College, Taunton, UK) is also available here as a .csv raw data file download for import into any database program like Excel.  (CSV FILE)  With this file you will be able to sort on any column as needed in your work.  Also check out the Microbe Zoo, Water World.  
http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/dlc-me/zoo/zwpmain.html   If you know the name of the critter you can find more information about them at BENTHIC.    http://water.nr.state.ky.us/ww/bugs/intro.htm  


NOTE:  The following WWW links will take you directly to the various web site pages.  Your browser URL address line will tell you the origin of the site.

Sun animalcules and Amoebas
Flagellated Protozoa
Ron's Pond Scum  http://www.geocities.com/gus1911/RonPond.htm
How to Microphotograph ++

Great Resource of Protists Microphotographs
Tree of Life
Soil & Water Conservation Society of Metro Halifax
Suborders of Odonata in Michigan 
Major Stream Invertebrates 
Key to Stream Invertebrates
Insects on the World Wide Web
Aquatic Weed Identification
Chesapeake Bay Submerged Aquatic Vegetation
Give Water a Hand
Proper documentation of protozoa classification

See our separate Paramecium page.

The Book - A highly recommended freshwater protozoa guide!
 Free-Living Freshwater Protozoa: A Color Guide

by David J. Patterson, S. Hedley (Illustrator)

Book Description
This color book makes the identification of individual protozoa easily accessible and provides information on protozoan communities found in different environments by means of a wealth of color photomicrographs supported by original and detailed line drawings and concise text.
  Contains excellent information for ecologists as well.

3.  TAXONOMY - The science of naming things is called taxonomy. 

*(See note below.) All living things are organized into a family tree starting with 5 "Kingdoms".  (Super kingdoms are - 1. Prokaryotae and 2. Eukaryotae.)

1.  Plants  2.  Fungi   3.  Animals   4.  Protoctista   5.  Bacteria   

The next level of the family tree under each of these kingdoms is called "Phyla". The plural of  phylum is phyla.   The animal (animalia) kingdom for example is divided into approximately 38 smaller phyla branches of the tree.  The next levels down the tree are "Class", Subclass", "Order", "Suborder", "Family", "Genus", and "Species".   Lets see how this would look for the "Paramecium" which is a common pond microscopic animal. 

Kingdom  Animalia  (Protista - * see note below)
Class  Ciliatea
  Subclass  Rhabdophorina
Order  Hymenostomatida
  Suborder  Peniculina
Family  Parameciidae
  Genus  Paramecium
Species  aurelia, bursaria, or caudatum ..............

P. aurelia complex 
P. bursaria 
P. calkinsi
P. caudatum
P. chilomonas
P. duboscqui
P. jenningsi 
P. multimicronucleatum
P. polycaryum 
P. trichium

*NOTE:  The reference for this information is from Volume 1 of "Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms" by Sybil P. Parker, 1982, McGraw Hill. The following is extracted from that publication.  

"The classification used in these volumes recognized four kingdoms (Virus, Monera, Plantae, and Animalia) arranged in two superkingdoms - the Prokaryotae and the Eukaryotae.  Almost all workers agree that these two superkingdoms reflect a basic difference in organization of living organisms.  Decision on this arrangement is based on a compromise between the most useful groups and the highest degree of monophyly of these taxa.  The kingdoms recognized herein and some of the subkingdoms are still minimally mono phyletic.  Many workers will disagree with certain aspects of this classification, especially not recognizing the Protista.  Although this four-kingdom system advocated herein has the greatest advantage, the differences between it and some other systems, such as a five kingdom system recognizing Protistia, are not significant."

There are many species of the Genus Paramecium.  Three of them are Paramecium aurelia,  Paramecium bursaria, and the  Paramecium caudatum.  Notice that the first part of the name (Genus) is capitalized and the second (Species) name is not.  That is the standard way to write the names.  These names are similar to your name - they specify you in particular.  You wouldn't be expected to know the names of every person in your country so don't expect to memorize all the various species as there are millions of them.  Just concentrate on a few like you do your family and friends names. 

For lot's of paramecium links go to "101 Microscopy  Page Two".

Taxonomy Database Search  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Taxonomy/

Plant Taxonomy Database GRIN  http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/tax/

Kingdoms Project   http://www.il-st-acad-sci.org///kingdoms.html

Ideas in Bloom : Taxonomy-Based Activities for U.S. Studies

Classification Online Textbook - All you need to know about classification.

PROTOZOA Some Common Freshwater Types

Bacteria LINKS

Frog Dissection step-by-step tutorial http://curry.edschool.virginia.edu/go/frog/menu.html

Online microscope image database links.

For some of the  the finest examples of microscopy
please explore the following site.
Supported by NASA

A list of image databases http://www.academicinfo.net/bioimage.html

Just enter the name of the image you want, like "paramecium" and search for images.

Online Images http://www.isis.vt.edu/~fanjun/text/Link_imag.html

 Molecular Expressions Galleria
 Scanning Electron Microscope
 The Nanoworld Image Gallery  Silicon Zoo
 MicroAngela's Electron Microscope Image Gallery

Image Search Engines

 Webseek (search 665,000 images)  
 Ditto Visual Search Engine  Amazing Picture Machine
 Sunset - Many Gif's and JPG's  Berkeley Lab Image Library
 Pics 4 Learning  The Bigger Pixel
 FreeFoto  Ithaki Image Meta Search
 PicSearch (pictures & Images)  Photo Sooyes

Animal - Nature - Plant Image Links

Undersea Research Images  Transcendent Nature - by Kurt Ross
 Vacular Plant Image Gallery  Noble Foundation Plant Image Gallery
 The Great Outdoors (Wildlife)  Minerals and Gem Sites (JR Hotsites)
 Polar Photos (help for keywords)  Frame 37 Photographers (Landscapes)
 NeoFlora (largest plant database)  Animal Images (JR Hotsites)
 Glacier Image Database  Forestry Images
 CalPhotos: California Plants & Habitats (20,000 images)
 Agricultural Research Service Image Gallery (inc. fruit)
 Delta Wildlife & Nature Photography
 Acadia National Park (in Maine)

The Book - A highly recommended freshwater protozoa guide!

Free-Living Freshwater Protozoa: A Color Guide
by David J. Patterson, S. Hedley (Illustrator)

Book Description
This color book makes the identification of individual protozoa easily accessible and provides information on protozoan communities found in different environments by means of a wealth of color photomicrographs supported by original and detailed line drawings and concise text.
  Contains excellent information for ecologists as well.

Web site
Thanks to David Patterson for submitting information in this section.

Be sure to check out our "MicroPhotographs" page.


Parts of the Microscope - http://www.middleschoolscience.com/scope.htm
History of the Microscope - http://www.southwestschools.org/jsfaculty/Microscopes/history.html
Types of Microscopes - http://www.southwestschools.org/jsfaculty/Microscopes/types.html
Compound Light Microscopes - http://www.southwestschools.org/jsfaculty/Microscopes/compoundscope.html
Microscope Activities - http://www.southwestschools.org/jsfaculty/Microscopes/activites.html
An Introduction to Microscopy
- http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html
Use the Virtual Scanning Electron Microscope online
        Check out jellyfish or sand or diatoms. Change the focus or brightness.
        Photo Gallery of all kinds of things as seen under the microscope

CyberSleuth on Microscopes - http://cybersleuth-kids.com/sleuth/Science/Microscopes/

Microbe World - http://www.microbeworld.org/

Murder Under the Microscope - http://svc014.wic031dp.server-web.com/default_flash.cfm

Virtual Pinning - Anatomy and Cell Biology - animal, plant, bacteria, brain cells-
        click on the pin and match with the definition

Microworld - Internet Guide to Microscopy
        Suggested websites http://www.mwrn.com/resources/guide.htm

          Project Micro Page with Ask a Scientist (Mike Roscope),
          Images, Projects and Links

           Exploration of the Month from U. Minnesota

  Virtual Plant Cell - see the various parts in  pictures and in microscopy

  Plant Cell

  Virtual Microscopy Library from the University of Oklahoma (More for teachers than   kids)

  History of the Microscope with stuff about Leeuwenhoek including
  replicas of his original microscope

  Observations of Pond Creatures - lesson plan

   Resources from the Exploratorium -   http://www.exploratorium.edu/imaging_station/index.html

   Microscope Lab Activity - http://www.middleschoolscience.com/microscope.pdf

   Build the Pond Viewer for your classroom -

You may want to check Mrs. Mitchell's  CELLS web page which has web sites that offer ways to make various cell models with fun materials.


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GO TO MICROSCOPY PAGE 2 for paramecium information and much more....Click HERE.>>>>>