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Teaching Microscope Use, Maintenance, and Training Policy

The department uses both compound and dissecting microscopes in teaching laboratories and takes seriously its responsibility for the care of these valuable resources. It is committed to ensuring that the microscopes are available, used appropriately, and kept in good working order at all times. Microscopes consistently must be returned to their proper places in clean, working condition, ready for the next user. To achieve these goals, the following guidelines have been implemented.

Location of Microscopes

Use microscopes in the rooms to which they have been assigned. If you need to move microscopes for use in other laboratory classrooms, make arrangements with the lab coordinator.

Microscopes may be used only in the laboratory classrooms, e.g., they may not be temporarily relocated to faculty labs or offices or graduate student offices.

Microscopes must be returned to their proper places when not in use. Each microscope is numbered, and corresponds to a numbered cupboard in a specific laboratory classroom where the microscope is housed when not in use. All guidelines in this policy hold true for torpedo lamps, as well.

Care, Maintenance,  and Storage

  • The lab coordinator will replace bulbs, arrange for routine maintenance, and oversee repairs on all teaching microscopes.
  • The lab coordinator will clean soiled lenses. Teaching assistants and instructors will leave microscopes whose lenses need cleaning in the stockroom with a note.
  • Inform the lab coordinator if any microscope is not functioning properly so repairs or bulb replacements can be arranged. This includes wear and tear on the microscopes (e.g., a frayed cord) and microscope covers.
  • When storing microscopes after use, follow the procedures below:
    • Remove all slides from the stage
    • Insure that the microscope is clean (body and lenses)
    • Leave compound microscopes at the lowest power objective
    • Loosely gather the cord and store under the microscope cover; DO NOT tightly wrap the cord around the microscope, as this will damage the cord and can compromise the condenser unit
    • Place the microscope carefully in its assigned cupboard, with the objectives facing the back of the cupboard


  • Proper training in the techniques of microscope use should be an integral part of all laboratory classes taught in the department.
  • Teaching assistants should be knowledgeable in microscopy in order to train the undergraduates in their classes to use equipment properly.
  • It is the responsibility of the faculty member teaching the class or the BIOL 101 coordinator to insure that teaching assistants are sufficiently trained in microscope use and in the department’s policies regarding microscopes.

Approved 10/11/05