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This activity should provide you with knowledge about the parts of cells. You are to observe a variety of cells seen through a microscope. For each cell you should describe the cell in detail.


What visible characteristics are different as you observe plant cells and compare them with animal cells?



  • On-line option:
  • Microscope option
    • Microscope
    • Prepared microscope slides of animal specimens
    • Prepared microscope slides of plant specimens or student prepared microscope slides
      • Blank microscope slides
      • Cover slip
      • Water
      • Plant specimens (e.g. Elodea, Duckweed, or Filamentous algae

Safety concerns: icon Be sure to keep all glassware safety rules. As with all science lab activities, the most important safety rule is to follow all teacher directions.



  1. If preparing your own slide, follow these instructions
    • Carefully place one drop of water on the microscope slide.
    • Place a small piece of plant material on the water droplet (tear the plant with your fingers to get a rough edge on the specimen)
    • Gently lower the cover slip at an angle so the water holds it tight to the microscope slide.
  1. Look closely at each slide at low power (typically 40x) and then draw what you observe.
  2. Identify the cells drawn as a "plant" or an "animal" cell.
  3. Increase the microscope magnification to medium power (typically 100x) and draw what you observe.
  4. Increase the magnification once more to high power (typically 400x) and draw the more detailed view you now see. Be careful as you focus so that you do NOT break your microscope slide!


  1. What did you observe in plant cells that was not visible in animal cells?
  2. Were there any cells you observed which were hard to identify as plant or animal?
    • If so why?
  3. What visible characteristics would you use to identify plant cells by?

Review science safety rules here.

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The Quicktime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 7th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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