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How to Use a Microscope Properly

Find out the correct steps to using a microscope right here. We’ll give you a step-by-step guide you can trust, including helping you identify the different parts of a microscope.

Using a microscope properly

Learning the steps to using a microscope is extremely useful to certain people. Learning how to use a microscope is useful for high-school students who want to get a head start on their biology peers. Or maybe you’re a university student who needs to spend less time in the bar and need a microscope crash course?

Well, whatever the reason for your visit, welcome to Stealth Ninja’s personal lecture on microscopes. Here, we will provide you with valuable information on how to use a microscope step by step and teach you the different parts of a microscope. With our correct techniques and instructions – what will you discover?

What is a Microscope?

A microscope is a device often found in medical and science laboratories and used to magnify cells so we can understand their structures. The microscope has come a long way since its invention in The Netherlands many centuries ago.

Whereas the first microscopes were just about able to see cells, the ones we have today are much more sophisticated. Today’s microscopes have extreme power and allow us to magnify cells to extreme intensities.

Using a microscope for test samples

Why Use a Microscope?

Microscopes are used in the sciences and in medicine. They allow us to gather a deeper understanding of cells. By increasing our understanding, we can use this knowledge to the benefit of mankind. For example, cancer research scientists will use microscopes to understand cancerous cells in more detail and make steps to finding a cure.

Similarly, they are used to analyze samples in medicine and help diagnose patients. Not to forget their use in identifying new species of animals. Overall, a microscope has a lot of beneficial uses.

Recommended Reading: Take a look at our big guide to microscopes for kids and teens.

importance of microscopes

Parts of a Microscope

Before you read our how to use a microscope step by step guide, you will need to understand the key names given to the different parts of a microscope. Here are the main parts you need to know to make sure you get things right:

Turret: this part revolves above the sample to give you different types of lenses to look at your sample through.

Objective lens: the lens is the one which is closest to the sample and often the most often needed.

Stage: the stage is the place where the slide is placed. It can be adjusted in height to get close to the lens. Many also have clips to secure down the slide with the sample on and prevent it moving.

Eyepiece: the eyepiece is the part of the microscope that you look through to see the magnified sample.

Focus knob: the focus knob is often found on the side of the microscope and is turned to move the stage up and down.

Condenser: the condenser will often be found underneath the stage, and when it’s adjusted, the light intensity will change to provide a better view of the sample.

Microscope close up

Recommended Next: Don’t miss our ultimate guide to the top microscopes available.

How to Use a Microscope Step by Step

The steps to using a microscope listed below are to be used with standard microscopes that are found in educational settings and found in kids’ science packs. This is because we don’t expect our esteemed medical professionals and frizzy-haired scientists to be reading along. So, smartphones away and let’s begin…

Step One: Carry Carefully

When getting your microscope prepared, remember to carry your microscope with two hands to make sure you don’t drop it. Although your microscope is likely to not be a state-of-the-art model, it may still be a valuable and fun product.

Step Two: Setting Up

The next step is to put your microscope slide on the part known as the stage. To keep it secure you will need to fasten this slide down using clips provided. After the slide is secured, raise the stage using the focus knob so it becomes as close to the lens without the two coming into contact.

Recommended: Don’t miss our guide to the leading USB microscopes.

Step Three: Getting Focused

Once your sample is secured and in the best position, it’s time to focus the microscope so that you have the best view of your sample. If you didn’t drop the microscope in step one, this is arguably the most important step. Start by looking through the eyepiece and adjusting the focus until the sample comes into focus.

examining a sample using a compound microscope

At this point, you need to turn to the condenser to increase the amount of light – thus improving your view. This is where you will need to fiddle around to get the light and focus pairing just right. You may even need to switch lenses. With practice, this part becomes easier and quicker.

Step Four: Look At Your Sample

Breathe – the hard work is done. Next, you get the opportunity to look, analyze and be intrigued by your sample. Remember to take notes if needed!

Step Five: Finishing Up

When you are finished it’s important that you first lower the stage to prevent the slide touching the microscope. Then remove the slide of its sample and clean it. Again, use two hands to carry the microscope back into storage.

scientist in lab with microscope

Additional Pointers

The steps to using a microscope above are important. But here are some additional tips and tricks to make using a microscope even easier:

  • Add a coverslip over the slide to further protect the microscope and the sample touching.
  • Only use specific lens paper to maintain and clean lenses. Never use your finger.
  • Cover your microscope and store it away when not being used.
  • Always carry your microscope with two hands – one underneath the microscope and on the item’s arm.

Now You’ve Earned Your Lab Coat!

Now that you know how to use a microscope step by step, you can go ahead and conquer the first biology lesson or surprise your professors in your next lab seminar. Remember, these steps will work for the majority of quality microscopes, but more sophisticated models may need a different process. Remember to give StealthyNinjas.com a mention in your biology Nobel Prize speech!

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