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How Do I Choose the Best Microscope Slides?

A woman using a microscope.
A compound microscope with a slide.
A microscope with a slide on it.
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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 12 April 2014
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When choosing microscope slides, consider whether you'd prefer slides that are prepared with various specimens to view, or blank slides that you may prepare yourself. Basic slide making kits may include glass slides, cover slips, labels and a protective storage box. Many types of microscope slides are made of glass, which may be suitable for high school and college students, while plastic slides may be more suitable for children. When buying prepared sets of microscope slides, you may narrow your choices according to your field of study or interest, such as botany, anatomy or pathology. Your local science store may have specimen slides for sale, although you might find a better selection at online specialty stores.

If you're using prepared microscope slides as an educational tool, choose those that are designed by grade level. Slides may be categorized in groups. The slides may be labeled for preschoolers through kindergarten, then grades one through six. Other categories may include middle school, high school or college level. If the microscope slides are for an adult hobby, consider those for high school and college level.

Next, narrow down your choices by field of study. For instance, if your primary interest is zoology, find microscope slide sets that feature specimens of insects or insect parts, as well as microorganisms such as protozoa. Additionally, zoology microscope slide sets may include skeletal sections, cartilage and intestinal structures of many animals. Some specimens may be marked as longitudinal sections, cross sections or whole mount.

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You may also want to choose prepared microscope slides according to your chosen career. For instance, if you're preparing for a career in medical science, consider slides for human anatomy or pathology study. These types of microscope slides often include tissue and organ sections, as well as cell structure. Human pathology slides will help you study diseased sections of the human anatomy, such as cancerous liver cells. Look for quality specimen slides that have been sliced and dyed by professionals.

If you want to make your own specimens, you can blank glass slides or slide making kits. Preparing your own microscope slides can be satisfying and fun, although gathering specimens and materials can be time-consuming. Consider the tools you may need, such as blank slides and cover slips and some type of sealant to preserve the slides permanently if you wish. If you are dry mounting a slide, you may be limited to specimens such as hair, fur, feathers or textiles. Wet mounting is generally suitable for live specimens, although this method may take more time and effort.

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