The start of Microscope class

in StemSociallast year



A couple of days ago I got an email stating I was assigned a mentor/teacher, four weeks early, to start phase 2 of my Soil Food Web online school. This Phase would be the start of microscope training and gathering materials for making Bio-Complete compost. The microscope will help me identify beneficial and pathogenetic microorganisms in the soil, compost, compost extracts and teas.

I have been busy with moving and helping my buddy build up his backyard for the upcoming growing season here in Eugene; I am behind on studying as a result. Luckily, we have done a majority of work that needed to be done before the growing season.

The following list below is what I needed to study before contacting my mentor. For the Microscope sessions there are 8. Each session will be one hour long and I need to be prepared to answer all questions and perform all needed tasks online via zoom. There is also homework I need to accomplish before each session. I intend on being prepared for at least two-three sessions before contacting my mentor next week.

1) Install Zoom on your computer and ensure your audio and video settings are working properly.**


2) Review Compound Microscope parts breakdown

  • FC4 Course Manual, Lecture 1.1.5


3) Read up to part III and practice microscope parts

  • Light Source (Lamp):


  • Dimmer Control:


  • Eyepieces:


  • Diopter:


  • Headpiece:


  • Nosepiece:


  • Objective Lenses:


  • Stage:


  • Coarse Focus:


  • Fine Focus:


  • Iris diaphragm:


  • Condenser:


  • Condenser Focus Knob:


3) Locate the eyepiece field number on your microscope

  • FC4 Course Manual, Lecture 2.1.4



4) Review how to calibrate your pipette

  • FC4 Course Manual, Lecture 2.1.2

This was a bit frustrating as I needed to buy test tubes with a 1ml marking and the ones I bought did not have 1ml markings. So I ordered new ones that will be here tomorrow that will have 1ml markings. I triple and quadruple checked measurements for my test tubes and my pipettes using a scale despite the lack of a one millimeter marking. One gram of water is supposed to equal 1ml of water.


Weighing the water using a scale, I found my scale is not that accurate with measurements greater than 2 grams. I will have to unpack my old cannabis scale to get 0.1 gram increments. I also found that there was really no accurate way to measure 1ml of water into the test tube using markings already present on the test tube. However, after testing my pipettes, I found my plastic pipettes did require 20 drops of water to get to 1ml where as my glass pipettes would require 28 drops for one milliliter of water.




5) Set-up your microscope

  • FC4 Course Manual, Lecture 1
  • FC4 Course Manual, Lecture 2

Focusing the condenser was pretty easy. I just needed to place a soft cloth with a sharp edge on top of the lens that the light was emitting from.

However, it took maybe an hour or two to focus the eyepieces and diopter in order to make two circles one for my field of view. That process was very tedious.

Review how to clean and care for microscope and accessories

  • FC4 Course Manual, Lecture 1
  • FC4 Course Manual, Lecture 2

Dust can easily get into the microscope and negatively affect the gears and lenses. It is important to always keep the microscope covered when not in use.
* Have a Professional clean Microscope once a year

Use Microfiber cloths to clean slides and cover slips before and after.

Complete the Session 1 Prep Homework Exercise on page 18

Set-up your camera, connect it to your computer - confirm that your camera is working by taking still-shots and video


The camera works and so does the video recorder!

Now I am ready to start preparing slides and practicing using this Microscope! The next session/ Assignment will be on preparing slides! I will share the video and images from taking samples around the property on the next post!

  • Practice before your session and write down questions that arise

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