Items you will need for observing the plants (macroscopically and with a stereo microscope)

  • Hand lens(es) – multiple lens from 5-20 X
  • Dissecting needles
  • Tweezers
  • Beaker(s)
  • Kimwipes or brown paper towels  
  • Stereo microscope(s)*
  • Microscope slides (see cleaning instructions below)
  • Ethyl alcohol (70% available at pharmacies)
  • Razor blades (single edge stainless steel)
  • Hand-held microtome(s) – optional
  • Stains – such as Toluidine Blue O
  • Coplin jars (Fig. 3) or petri dishes (to hold cleaned slides)

     *(If available, also consider an ocular attachment for cell phone to take pictures)

Figure 3. Coplin jar. Coplin jar which can hold multiple slides. Credit: M.E. Conley

Cleaning microscope slides with 70% ethyl alcohol

You need to clean your glass microscope slides before use.

To do this, put on safety glasses and wear disposable gloves as alcohol is flammable and toxic. If a hood is available, work under the hood.

You can clean slides individually by dipping the slides into a beaker of alcohol, then drying them with a dustless paper towel (like a Kimwipe or brown paper towel) and then setting on a petri dish. Alternatively, rather than doing slides one at a time, you can put them in a Coplin jar (Fig. 3), pour in the alcohol and place the cover on top. Then when you need a slide, you select one and dry it at that time.

If light microscopes are available

The list of items above plus…

Cover slips – many sizes are available: we used simple 22 x 22 mm squares.

Stains (example: Toluidine Blue O, Safranin, Fast Green)

Prepared slides purchased from a commercial company (ex.Triarch)