Young kids are notoriously curious about everything around them, so why not let them investigate a bit more? Kids love to learn how things work, whether it’s computers, chemistry, or even nature. With a basic compound microscope (the very common kind with two sets of convex lenses) and a little creativity, kids can spend hours learning about the world around them – and it keeps them entertained! Here are a few basic microscope experiments scientists of all ages can enjoy.
- Cheek swab: This is an awesome way to teach kids the basics about cells and human biology. Simply take a small swab from the inside of your cheek with a toothpick, and smear the toothpick on the slide. Use a small bit of dye to make the cells easier to see, then take a look in the microscope to see cheek cells.
- Onion cells: Another quick and easy experiment, this one will have your kid learning about plant cell structure. Place a drop of water on the microscope slide, and on top of that lay down a piece of the thin membrane that separates the layers of an onion. Drop a bit of dye on the membrane, and take a look under the microscope. For an added bit of fun, compare these cells to the cheek cells from the last experiment to see the difference between plant and animal cells.
- Cork cells: Replicate the first cells ever seen under a microscope with this experiment. Slice a thin layer off of a cork with a sharp knife or razor blade (make sure the parents do this part), and lay it on top of a drop of water on a microscope slide. No dye needed for this experiment, just take a look in the microscope! This experiment was how famous scientist Robert Hooke first discovered the existence of cells. Let your kids know that they’re doing exactly what a famous scientist did; your little scientists will certainly be excited knowing that.
Just remember for any science projects or experiments that safety is important. Make sure to handle any equipment carefully, and try to have parents around to supervise kids during their science experiments.