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Cool Things to Look at Under Microscopes

Curious kids have questions: What do cells look like up close? How about the organisms living in our waters? They can see life and the world around them from a whole new perspective under the lens!

Maria Bailey and Sarah Burns

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Does your kid ever wonder what the world looks like on a microscopic scale? Microscopes open up a whole new world to young scientists, magnifying objects to appear larger than they actually are. Grab your curious kid, and read on to discover fascinating details that can’t be seen with the naked eye, including cells, bacteria, organisms, and other small wonders that are just waiting to be explored under the lens! 

Pond Water

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What lies beneath the murky waters of lakes and ponds has always been something of a mystery. However, a sample of pond or lake water under a microscope reveals the many varieties of plant and animal organisms that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Kids can see if they can identify which organisms are present in their water sample under a microscope by going to Microscope Master for simple step-by-step instructions! 

Salt

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Ordinary table salt might not be the first thing you think of when picking interesting samples to look at under a microscope, but lo and behold, salt is actually pretty fascinating — at a microscopic scale, that is! But why stop at table salt when you can look at so many other varieties up close under the lens! Blog, She Wrote experiments with kosher salt, iodized salt, and Himalayan salt while providing easy-to-follow instructions so you and your little scientist can too!

Yeast

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You might know of yeast as the key ingredient that makes bread rise, but in the science world, yeast is essentially a single-cell organism called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae — a super long name for a very tiny organism! For this next experiment, rather than whipping up a dough mixture to make bread, a simple mixture of yeast, sugar, and water is all it takes to see the magic unfold under the lens. Microscope World will guides you through a simple yeast experiment so you and your kid can discover yeast cells for yourselves.

Flower Petals

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Flowers are one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations. Under a microscope, that beauty takes on another level! Have your child simply place part of a petal on a glass slide, and drop water onto the slide before covering the sample with the slide cover. Now for the exciting part: ask them to insert the slide into the microscope to discover amazing plant cells and their cell walls, chlorophyll, and the beautiful surfaces and textures of flower petals up close! 

Onion

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You know that thin filmy membrane between the layers of an onion? Well, it’s packed with fascinating cells that makes for a fun and easy family experiment to try at home! A biological stain like methylene blue is recommended (optional) to make the cells more visible — however, it is toxic, so adult supervision is a must! Go to Microscope Spot to see onions up close! 

Sand

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While individual grains of sand may look uniform from afar, each one is different and unique! Grains of sand come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors and even vary from beach to beach. An assortment of mineral particles, rock fragments, and other organic matter is broken down into tiny particles to create sand! And a microscope is a wonderful tool to appreciate the stunning variety of sand grains in detail. The Home School Scientist demonstrates how to compare sand from different beaches — also making for a great excuse to visit different beaches this summer with the fam!

Hair

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Scratching your head looking for the next exciting thing to look at under a microscope? Well, what’s on your head is a good place to start! Hair is downright fascinating on a microscopic scale, and we have access to many different varieties of hair specimens — whether it be human hair, dog hair, cat hair, or even horsehair (the list goes on)! Under a microscope, these different hair specimens have many different shapes, colors, and textures. Challenge your kid to differentiate between the hair specimens based on their characteristics under a microscope using Rs’ Science as their guide! 

Updated June 2022

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Adventure Club: A Microscopic Adventure

We’ll be reading “Do Not Lick This Book!” written by Idan Ben-Barak and Julian Frost.
Have a piece of paper and something to draw with for our "Min the Microbe" doodle of the day!
Wake up your weekend with your favorite CAMP Counselors! These highly imaginative and interactive experiences will keep you moving, playing and creating. Earn a badge after completing each one!
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