The Microscopic World

Welcome to BioBox Labs. We are so excited that you are joining us on this exploration of the living world! The Microscopic World is the first BioBox every subscriber will receive. The hallmark of this box is the microscope – one of the most important scientific tools. We have literally searched the world to find a microscope that is extremely high quality and easy to use. We know you will love it as much as we do! This tool will be used in many other BioBoxes, so having it right at the beginning is key.

There are 4 experiments in this box which have been designed to be explored over a number of days for a month of fun! Each is marked with the approximate time to complete. For this box, it is recommended that you follow the order of experiments as written. Be sure to check out the additional tips and tricks

Included in this BioBox:

Student Microscope – this is a high-quality scope that is easy to use.

Magnifying glass

Prepared slides (plant stem, mushroom, paramecium…)

Blank slides

Cover slips

Methyl blue stain

Additional microscope supplies

Lab notebook – with background information, detailed directions, tips and tricks

Suggested things needed:

Bright work space or table lamp

Toothpicks

Onion

Paper towels

Below is an an engaging video that gives clarity and extra experimental details – with a touch of humor. Watch this before you begin the experiments. It will be really helpful!

Details of the BioBox:

Experiment 1: Looking through a magnifying glass

 
 

One of the trademarks of a great scientist is their curiosity. They have the ability to look carefully, make observations, and ask questions about what they see. This experiment begins to spark the curiosity within your child. Looking at living things through a magnifying glass brings a whole new world into focus.

Tip: You can encourage this curiosity by asking questions. Some suggestions - what do you now see that you could not without the lens? Can you find some tiny organisms that you wouldn’t even notice with your eyes alone?

Experiment 2: How to use the microscope.

Be sure to watch the video before starting this experiment! While it is tempting to just put on a slide and try to see it – it is really helpful to learn about your microscope and how it works before you try a slide. This is a great skill to have and it will open up an entirely new world once you get a hang of it! We start with the plant stem slide because it is bigger and easier to see.

kid_with_microscope.jpg

Tips

- Make sure there is enough light

- Angle the mirror so the light comes up through to the eye piece

- Center the slide so specimen is centered over the stage opening

- Start with the lens closest to the slide and slowly raise until the image comes into focus

- Add other types of light to see more – maybe a flashlight shining down on the slide

- If the lenses and slides are smudged, use only included lens paper to clean to avoid scratching

Experiment 3: Cells, cells, and more cells

 
cells.jpg
 

Now you get to explore a number of preserved living organisms and how each is made of smaller units called cells.

Tips:

- Remember to use the microscope skills learned in Experiment 2.

- Ask questions – what is similar about these slides? What is different? Why might a bone have different cells than a leaf? Etc.

Experiment 4: Living Cells

Now you get to see what living cells look like! This is bit more involved and would be helpful to have adult help.You will need a toothpick or cotton swab to gently collect inside cheek cells. For the onion, the thinner the piece the better!

Tips:

- Wear gloves to keep stain off hands

- The cheek cells will be a small smudge on the slide. Add a tiny drop of stain and then gently drop on the cover slip. Cells are tiny at this magnification and will be seen as small dark blue spots.

- If the first onion is too thick – pull off the cover slip, rinse, pat dry, and try again.

- Cheek slides should be thrown away. Onion slide can be rinsed, dried and the blank slide reused.

- There are plenty of blank slides to explore many more specimens with or without stain. Be creative and have fun!

Cheek cells with methyl blue stain (600x)

Let the epic experiments begin!

What an adventure – we are so glad you have joined us! Please let us know about your experiments – send pictures, give tips for other BioBoxers, share favorite results. #bioboxlabs

Thomas Flewelling