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Activity: The Care and Feeding of Your Microscope

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The above video was produced by LW Scientific, one of our leading suppliers, and features our good friend Mike Thomas.

If you have made the investment in a nice microscope, you'll want to take good care of it. If you take care of a quality instrument (like those available from GreatScopes), it can last a lifetime. But how do we take care of our scope? That's what we'll talk about in this Microscopic Adventure.

Handling Your Microscope
  • When you move your microscope, you should always use two hands. Place one hand around the arm, lift the scope, then put your other hand under the base of the scope for support. If you learn to carry the scope in this way, it will force you to carry it carefully, ensuring that you do not knock it against anything while moving from one place to another.
  • When you put the scope down, do so gently. If you are in the habit of banging your scope down on the table, eventually you could jar lenses and other parts loose. Your microscope seems like a simple instrument, but each lens (eyepiece and objective) is actually made up of a number of other lenses, put together in a wonderful way to create wonderful magnification. So if you bang your scope around, you are shaking upwards of 15 to 20 lenses.
  • Always have clean hands when handling your scope. It would be a shame to damage your scope with too much peanut butter!

Storing Your Microscope
  • If you have a sturdy, stable desk or table on which to keep your scope, and it is a place where the scope will not be disturbed or bumped, this is the best way to store your scope. Just make sure that you keep it covered with a plastic or vinyl cover when it is not in use. Dust is an enemy to your lenses, and you always keep your scope covered when not in use.
  • If you are unable to provide such a place for your scope, we would like to recommend a simple storage solution. Go to your local Wal-Mart or K-Mart and buy one of those nice Rubbermaid type plastic containers with handles and a lid. Make sure that the container allows enough room for your scope, but also allow some room for all of the supplies that you will begin collecting. In the bottom of this container, place a piece of foam to pad the scope. On top of the foam, put a soft, clean, dish towel. Now you have a great "bed" for your scope. If you place your scope in here when it is not in use, it will be safe, protected from impact and dust.

Cleaning

The first step in keeping your scope clean, is to help it not get too dirty. Although some dust is inevitable, always keep your scope covered with the dust cover when it is not in use.
  • First of all, your eyepiece will need cleaning from time to time. Due to its position on the scope, it will have a tendency to collect dust and even oil from your eyelashes. The eyepiece lens should be cleaned with a high quality lens paper, such as is available from a camera shop or an eyeglass center. First brush any visible dust from the lens, then wipe the lens. You may wish to use a bit of lens solution, applied to the lens paper to aid in cleaning. (Do not use facial tissues or such to clean your lenses. Such tissues are made of ground up wood fibers and could damage your lenses.)
  • Secondly, you'll want to clean the objective lenses. Use a fresh portion of the lens paper each time so that you don't transfer dust from one lens to another.
  • Next, clean the glass condenser in the stage. Some microscopes just have a hole, in which case, of course, it doesn't need cleaning.
  • Finally, clean the glass lens over your light, or the mirror, so that an optimal amount of light can shine through.. You can also follow up by wiping down the whole scope with a soft, clean, cotton towel.
  • A cotton swab (Q-Tip) can be used in place of lens paper.

That should do it! Take good care of your microscope, and it will serve you well for many years to come.


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