Thursday, January 31, 2013

Quartz under the Microscope

Quartz is the second most abundant mineral found in the Earth's crust, after feldspar. There are many varieties of quartz, some of which are semi-precious gems.

Quartz image courtesy JJ Harrison.
Pure quartz is colorless and clear. Other varieties include Citrine (pale yellow to brown in color), rose quartz (pink) and Amethyst (bright to dark or dull purple in color).

Quartz image captured with the MW1-LD2 digital handheld microscope.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Microscopes and Industry

One of Microscope World's customers manufactures blood test strips for patients who need to test blood sugar levels, among other things. During the manufacturing process it is important to view some of the test strips for quality control.

Blood test strip captured with the SMZ-168 stereo microscope.

Stereo microscopes are commonly used for quality control in manufacturing and industry. If you have a particular application and wonder if a microscope might help streamline your quality control process, don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Polymers Under the Microscope

Viewing polymers under the microscope does not usually require a large amount of magnification. Below are some images Microscope World captured of polymer threads under a stereo microscope. Using a clear glass stage plate and light from both above and beneath the sample, the polymers were clearly visible.

10x magnification using only the top light on the stereo microscope.

HSZ6-TBL stereo microscope used to capture polymer images. This stereo microscope includes both a top and bottom LED illuminators.

30x magnification using both the top and bottom lights.

Fine polymer fibers captured at 40x magnification using the top light only on the stereo microscope.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Monocot vs. Dicot Seed Science Project

In this kids science project different types of angiosperms will be identified, specifically between the monocot and dicot seed. Students will be able to view the differences in size, color and shape of the two seed types.

A monocot (monocotyledon) seed has a tiny embryo inside, but once the seed coat is removed the seed will not split in half to reveal the embryo. There is only one cotyledon that is very thick and does not store food. The food is stored right around the embryo in a monocot seed. A corn kernel is a perfect example of a monocot seed. A dicot seed has a tiny embryo inside, but it is tucked in between the two halves of the seed. Each half of the seed is referred to as a cotyledon, hence the name dicotyledon. The cotyledon is filled with food and nutrients for the embryo to develop. An example of a dicot seed is the lima bean.

Take corn kernels and lima beans and soak them for 24 hours before starting this project in order to decrease the days of germination (3-6 days).

  • Ask students to compare these two seeds and which they believe will sprout first. How many days do they think it will take to sprout?
  • Place a paper towel in the Petri dish and add water until it is damp.
  • Place the lima bean on the left side and the corn kernel on the right side of the dish.
  • If you have a document camera, set it up and start time lapse recording to collect data.
  • Observe the sprouts several times during the growth phase and note how the monocot and dicot differ.
  • Prepare your documentation and report your findings.
Dicot captured with the MW1-HD2 digital student microscope.

Monocot captured with the DCM2.1 microscope camera.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Flower Dissection Student Project

This student project requires use of a stereo low power microscope and a flower. Start by having students take a look at the diagram below in order to learn the parts of the flower.

Have each student carefully remove the following parts of the flower as shown above and place them under the stereo microscope. If your microscope has a camera built in, captures images to share with the class.

What do you notice about the following parts?
  • Sepals
  • Petals (carefully remove the petals from a simple flower leaving the inside stamens exposed).
  • Stamen (remove all the stamens, it consists of a filament (long tube) with a rounded anther (tip).
  • Filament
  • Anther (find the pollen grains on the anther and measure the length of one pollen grain in mm).
  • Pistil (remove the pistil, it consists of the style, stigma and ovary.)
  • Style
  • Stigma
  • Ovary (carefully split the ovary in half lengthwise).


  1. How many sepals are present on your flower?
  2. How many petals are present on your flower?
  3. How many pistils are present on your flower?
  4. How many stamens are present on your flower?
  5. What is the length of the one pollen grain you measured and captured an image of?
  6. What is inside the base of the ovary?
Prepare a lab report including data, images and any drawings of the flower structure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bacteria Growth Rate Lab

In this science project for kids, the student will examine the nature of biological population growth, which typically follows a specific pattern. This begins with an initial "lag" phase where there is little increase in the number of individuals. After a fairly short lag phase, there is a rapid exponential growth phase that is typically short-lived. Most populations then reach a stable phase where if nutrients are available, the population with fluctuate at a steady level.

Bacteria captured with a digital biological microscope.

For this lab exercise, typically the teacher grows cultures and takes images with a document camera or the students can grow their own cultures and capture images with the camera or with a student microscope.

Activity 1: Setting Up & Recording Bacteria Growth

  1. Wear safety goggles and gloves at all times.
  2. Prepare sterile Petri dish with proper agar or nutrient source according to instructions usually provided by bacterial provider using aseptic techniques.
  3. Sterilize the bacteriological loop, and then inoculate the agar with the bacteria or provide prepared agar to give the students in a Petri dish.
  4. Note the time on the bottom of the dish.
  5. Focus with the document camera on the Petri dish and capture an initial image.
  6. Place the cover on the Petri dish, but do not turn it upside down.
  7. Use the document camera and set for recording a time lapse sequence of pictures.
  8. Focus the camera, so the entire radius of the Petri dish is in view.
  9. Have the camera take a picture every 30 minutes.
  10. Stop recording after 48 hours.

Activity 2: Measuring the Growth Rate & Graphing

  1. In each image of the growing bacteria, measure the diameter or approximate area of 3-5 colonies of bacteria on the plate. Average these for each time point.
  2. This measurement can be done with a metric ruler or with the calibration tool on the microscope or document viewer software.
  3. Record the average diameter or area of the bacterial colonies per time elapsed.
  4. Label the graph paper with time on the X axis and Colony size on the Y axis.
  5. Plot the average diameter of colonies in each frame on the time lapse sequence.
  6. With the recorded data, find an equation that describes the line or curve on the graph in the growth portion of the graph. Express the equation in both change in measurement (#s of bacteria) over change in time and also the natural log function.

Discussion Questions

  1. Does the plotted curve obtained match the predicted sigmoid curve of the normal growth model?
  2. What does the best fit curve look like? Does it provide new info about growth?
  3. Are the normal "lag", "log", and "stable" phases evident?
  4. What factors might cause all living things to basically follow this kind of growth curve, be they bacteria or elephants?
Have students prepare a lab report including the data, images and video to give a presentation to the class.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Measuring Cell Area

Microscope World recently had a customer from the University of Chicago who needed to measure the white area that was around and between alveoli (lung tissue) samples. By using a microscope camera with I-Solutions software, we are able to help this customer solve their problem.

First, the alveoli image was captured and the color was adjusted so that cells really stood out.

Using the thresh-holding feature to measure the space between the lines of tissue, data was collected and exported to excel.

These are the statistics that were gathered from the image above. By using features of the I-Solutions software, the white area of the sample was easily calculated and the appropriate research was completed.

If you have a similar problem you are trying to solve, please contact Microscope World.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Stereo Microscope Kids Science Project

There are many fun things to view with a stereo microscope that can open the world of science to kids young and old! Below are a few options to get you started.

Spider Webs:

Spider web courtesy of Laura Bassett
Have you ever located a spider web with amazing patterns and wished you could view it up closer? Here is how you can do so.

  1. Take a blank glass microscope slide and place a thin layer of clear nail polish on it. Allow it to dry for about a minute (be careful not to touch it!)
  2. Hold the slide in front of the spider web (look out for spiders!) and push the slide into the web. Remove any extra spider web that hangs off the side of the web.
  3. You can place a cover slip over the slide if you want to preserve the slide.
  4. Place your slide under the stereo microscope at 20x magnification (or your lowest magnification). What kinds of patterns do you notice? As you adjust the magnification higher do you see anything different?


This kids science project is similar to the one listed above in that you will want to paint clear nail polish on a clear glass slide. This time, after about a minute, press your index finger into the slide and then lift it straight up. You should be left with your finger print impression on the slide. Place the slide under the microscope and use the top light only to view the finger print. Now, turn off the top light and use only the bottom light. What kinds of patterns do you notice? If your microscope has a camera, capture some images to share with others.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Microscope Digital USB Cameras

How Do Microscope Digital USB Cameras Work?

Microscope digital USB cameras are an excellent way to show a large group of people specimens under the microscope. This can be done in several ways:
  • Wirelessly broadcast to up to six devices the microscope image.
  • Connect the camera directly into a computer.
  • Connect the camera and project the image to an LCD projector from a computer.
You can learn more about the wireless WiFi enabled microscope camera option here.

Microscope USB camera

Most microscope digital cameras have a USB cable that connects directly into a computer or laptop. Once the camera is plugged into the computer and the included software is opened on the computer, it is possible to view a live image on the computer screen. The software allows image capture, motion video capture, and measurement.

The camera is mounted on the microscope in one of two ways. Either with a c-mount adapter on the trinocular (camera) port, or by mounting the microscope USB camera directly over one of the eyepieces.

The image above shows some options for connecting microscope USB cameras to the microscope. The most common way to connect a microscope camera is with a c-mount adapter on the trinocular port as shown at the bottom of the image. C-Mount adapters are microscope specific, you can learn more about microscope c-mounts here.