AQA A Level Biology复习笔记2.2.2 Microscopy & Drawing Scientific Diagrams

Practical Skill: Microscopy & Drawing Scientific Diagrams


  • Many biological structures are too small to be seen by the naked eye
  • Optical microscopes are an invaluable tool for scientists as they allow for tissues, cells and organelles to be seen and studied
  • For example, the movement of chromosomes during mitosis can be observed using a microscope
  • When using an optical microscope always start with the low power objective lens:
    • It is easier to find what you are looking for in the field of view
    • This helps to prevent damage to the lens or coverslip incase the stage has been raised too high


  •  A graticule must be used to take measurements of cells:
    • A graticule is a small disc that has an engraved scale. It can be placed into the eyepiece of a microscope to act as a ruler in the field of view
    • As a graticule has no fixed units it must be calibrated for the objective lens that is in use. This is done by using a scale engraved on a microscope slide (a stage micrometer)
    • By using the two scales together the number of micrometers each graticule unit is worth can be worked out
    • After this is known the graticule can be used as a ruler in the field of view



The stage micrometer scale is used to find out how many micrometers each graticule unit represents


  • Electron microscopes can produce highly detailed images of animal and plant cells
  • The key cellular structures within animal and plant cells are visible within the electron micrographs below
    • The presence of a vacuole in a micrograph is a good indicator of the cell type



TEM electron micrograph of an animal cell showing key features



TEM electron micrograph of a plant cell showing key features


Drawing Cells

  • To record the observations seen under the microscope (or from photomicrographs taken) a labelled biological drawing is often made
  • Biological drawings are line pictures which show specific features that have been observed when the specimen was viewed
  • There are a number of rules/conventions that are followed when making a biological drawing
  • The conventions are:
    • The drawing must have a title
    • The magnification under which the observations shown by the drawing are made must be recorded
    • A sharp HB pencil should be used (and a good eraser!)
    • Drawings should be on plain white paper
    • Lines should be clear, single lines (no thick shading)
    • No shading
    • The drawing should take up as much of the space on the page as possible
    • Well-defined structures should be drawn
    • The drawing should be made with proper proportions
    • Label lines should not cross or have arrowheads and should connect directly to the part of the drawing being labelled
    • Label lines should be kept to one side of the drawing (in parallel to the top of the page) and drawn with a ruler


  • Drawings of cells are typically made when visualizing cells at a higher magnification power, whereas plan drawings are typically made of tissues viewed under lower magnifications (individual cells are never drawn in a plan diagram)