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Introduction to Cells: Microscope Lab Activity

Part 1: Onion Cell


1. Put one drop of iodine on one of the slides. Caution: The iodine will stain clothes and
skin.
2. Take a piece of onion, and break it in half gently, leaving the outer layer of skin.
Carefully place the layer on the slide, over the iodine then place a coverslip over the
dyed onion.
3. Carefully place the finished slide onto the microscope so that the light is shining through
the onion sample.
4. Using the lowest power objective lens (red), observe what the onion sample looks like
and record below. Use words to describe your picture or label your drawing so I know
what you are observing.

Description/Labels:













5. Now, using the next most powerful objective lens (yellow), observe what the onion
sample looks like and record below. Use words to describe your picture or label your
drawing so I know what you are observing.

Description/Labels:


6. Finally, using the most powerful objective lens (blue), observe what the onion sample
looks like and record below. Use words to describe your picture or label your drawing so
I know what you are observing.

Description/Labels:

7. When you are finished carefully wash your slides and coverslips with soap and water
and set them on paper towel to dry.

Part 2: Cheek Cell


1. First, put one drop of iodine onto a clean slide.

2. Then, gently scrape the inside of your cheek with the long flat edge of a toothpick.
Scrape lightly.

3. Next, stir the end of the toothpick through the dye on the slide.

4. Place a coverslip onto the slide carefully, try not to get fingerprints or air bubbles.

5. Use the lowest power (x10) (red) objective to focus. You will see a sea of light brown/
red, and the cells will look like darker brown spots at this power. Observe what the cheek
cell sample looks like and record below. Use words to describe your picture or label
your drawing so I know what you are observing.

Description/Labels:


6. Once you think you have located a cell, switch to the next objective lens and focus.
Observe what the cheek cell sample looks like and record below. Use words to describe
your picture or label your drawing so I know what you are observing.

Description/Labels:

7. Finally, switch to the highest power objective and focus. Have the teacher check and
make sure you are looking at the right thing.

8. Observe what the cheek cell sample looks like and record below. Use words to describe
your picture or label your drawing so I know what you are observing.

9. When you are finished carefully wash your slides and coverslips with soap and water
and set them on paper towel to dry.
Analysis / Conclusion

1. Based on your observations, How are animal cells and plant cells the same and how are
they different? List at least two similarities and two differences between the two.

2. Why was the stain added?

3. The light microscope used in the lab is not powerful enough to view all the organelles in
the cells. What parts of the cells were visible?

4. List 2 organelles that were NOT visible but should have been.

5. Why were no chloroplasts found in the onion cells?

6. Were these cells eukaryotes or prokaryotes? How do you know?


7. Keeping in mind that the mouth is the first site of chemical digestion (saliva starts the
process of breaking down the food you eat) what organelle do you think would be
numerous inside the cells of your mouth?

Cell Review:
Complete the table by putting an x in the correct column.

Type of Organism Eukaryote Prokaryote

Animal

Protist

Bacteria

Plant

1. Which structure is present in a eukaryotic cell but not in a prokaryotic cell?

nucleus cell wall cell membrane

2. Which term best describes the complexity of prokaryotes compared to eukaryotes?

simpler more complex about the same