Resolving Colors with a Microscope
Resolving Colors with a Microscope is adapted from R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Biology 2 by Blair Lee, M.S.
Printed type is fascinating to look at with a microscope. What appears to be seamless type and color is a collection of dots of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) in different ratios depending on the color you see with your naked eye. It is fun to also look at color from a crayon or marker to compare how color from one of those looks through a microscope as compared to color on printed materials.
From: 9 Fun Science Activities. Click here to find links to the other 8 activities!
Materials for Resolving Colors with a Microscope
- Compound light microscope
- 9cm x 4cm piece of smooth white paper with black type printed on it
- Flyer with colored print
- Piece of white paper
- Crayon or marker – any color except black
Procedure for Resolving Colors with a Microscope
- Rotate the nosepiece so that the lowest power objective lens, 40x, will be focused on the specimen, the piece of paper. This is ALWAYS the starting position when you use your microscope. The lowest-power objective lens is the shortest one with the 4 stamped on it.
- Put the piece of paper that has type onto the stage, using the stage clips to hold it in place. You will not use a slide for this part of the experiment. Cut the paper as need to fit.
- Turn the coarse focusing knob until the stage has been moved up as close to the objective lens as it will go.
- Turn on the light for the microscope.
- Look through the eyepiece. Do not worry about focusing yet. Are you looking at type when you look through the eyepiece? If not, turn the knobs on the stage until you can see the black type. Find a letter and center it. Because there is no slide, you might need to move the paper with your finger.
- Turn the coarse focusing knob while you are looking through the eyepiece. Stop turning the knob at the clearest point.
- Adjust the amount of light.
- Turn the fine focusing knob so that the print is very clear. You should see random dots of overspray from the print.
- Turn the nosepiece so the 100x lens is focused on the specimen. Look at the specimen. Do you still see type? When you look at a higher magnification, you are looking at a smaller overall area. Sometimes the part you are looking at will no longer be in the area seen through the lens. If you don‘t see the type, carefully move the knobs on the stage so the type is seen through the lens.
- Turn the nosepiece so the 400x lens is focused on the specimen. Look at the specimen. Remember, when you look at a higher magnification you are looking at a smaller overall area. Sometimes the part you were looking at will no longer be in the area seen through the lens. Do you still see type? If not, move the stage until you do. What you will also see at this magnification are the fibers making up the paper. You might need to play with the focus to see the paper fibers.
- Repeat steps 1-10 for the colored flyer.
- Draw a line with the crayon on the white paper and repeat steps 1 – 10 for the line of crayon color.
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