European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences

Our inspiring educational experiences share the scientific discoveries of EMBL with young learners aged 10-19 years and teachers in Europe and beyond.

Microscope in action

The educational resource “Microscope in Action” (MiA) brings fluorescence microscopy into the classroom.

It consists of a research-grade fluorescence microscopy kit along with complimentary teacher and student materials: ready-to-use experimental protocols, exercises, student worksheets, educator material, and further reading recommendations.

About MiA

The educational resource “Microscope in Action”, a collaboration between researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), EMBLEM Technology Transfer GmbH, and the European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS), brings fluorescence microscopy into the classroom and engages children and young adults in cutting-edge science.


As we were deciding on which new resources to develop, we quickly realised that there was little hands-on material available for teachers to introduce fluorescence microscopy to their pupils. However, the method is well established and fundamental in many laboratories focusing on cell and molecular biology, and therefore should become part of the curriculum. This resource brings fluorescence microscopy into the classroom and engages children and young adults in cutting-edge science.

Creating a research-grade microscope

During the project’s development, we strove to ensure that the microscope remained research-grade. As a result, it can now be used not only in schools but also in universities and other research institutions.

Inquiry-based and interdisciplinary resource

One of the key features of the microscope is that it can be assembled and disassembled piece-by-piece. This offers a hands-on, inquiry-based opportunity, allowing the user to visually understand the underlying physics of the microscope thus getting a deep understanding of the tool and the principles behind it. The resource covers the entire process of microscopy, including sample preparation, imaging samples, and image analysis. We have prepared the accompanying teacher and student materials in a way that connects students to Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

Learning goals for students

  1. Assemble the learning microscope and understand the concept of fluorescence microscopy
  2. Know applications of fluorescence microscopy in the natural sciences and beyond
  3. Understand the connection between research, technology and applied sciences
  4. Apply interdisciplinary and interconnected thinking

Using MiA

“Microscope in Action” is designed to be a flexible resource suitable for students as young as 10 years old through to university level students. The resource includes teacher and student materials with 12+ optional protocols about microscope assembly, preparation of samples, and imaging, providing users with the freedom to use the resource for anywhere from 2 to 12 hours. The microscope is research-grade, includes components that life scientists use in the research lab, and arrives as a disassembled microscope that the students build. For this reason, students are immediately immersed in an inquiry-based project which can then be used to focus on a wide range of subjects and topics including but not limited to those listed below. Tab on the subject to reveal topics.

  • Microscopy: alternatives to light microscopy, optics of a (fluorescence) microscope, preparation of biological samples
  • Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology: working with a micropipette, preparing dilutions, autofluorescence, Green Fluorescent Protein, applications of fluorescence microscopy in biological research
  • Optics: collimation, magnification
  • Fluorescence
  • Luminescence/ fluorescence: differences between types of luminescence, energy states
  • Stains and chromophores
Computer science
  • Data and image analysis: using image analysis software such as ImageJ/Fiji
Natural sciences & technology studies
  • Linking natural science and technology

Teacher training

We regularly provide professional training for teachers on using the “Microscope in Action” resource. For more information about upcoming courses, please visit our teacher training page.

Technical specs of microscope

  • 20x Objective lens
  • Nominal wavelength = 470nm (blue)
  • Bandwidth of filters – filter set for GFP
  • LED: 470 nm, 760 mW (Min) Mounted LED, 1000 mA
  • LED driver up to 1200 mA15 V, 2.4 A Power Supply Unit

Learning & teaching materials

The “Microscope in Action” educational resource is accompanied by comprehensive learning and teaching materials which support teachers to deliver activities using the microscope.

Access to materials

The teacher and student materials are password protected pages. For more information, please contact us via email.

Teacher materials

The teacher materials include the step-by-step assembly guide for the microscope, safety information, proposed schedules on how to integrate the resource into lessons, selected lab protocols, student worksheets with answers, and ready-to-use instructional materials such as PowerPoint slides and links to external resources.

Student materials

The student materials include safety information, student protocols, worksheets, and links to external resources. The student materials can be printed or downloaded as a digitally editable PDF.


Rent the Fluorescence Learning Microscopy kits for your classroom. Rental is free of cost. Supporting materials are available in both English and German.

Kit components 

  • Fluorescence microscope (research grade)
  • Laptop
  • Experimental kit with materials for sample preparation
  • Access to a range of supporting materials – printed and digital. Available Languages: English and German
    • Teachers handbook which includes classroom workshop design and example schedules
    • Students handbook 
    • Videos and ready-to-use powerpoints 
  • Informational and training sessions – Please register below for upcoming sessions

A standard rental package includes 6 kits which are sufficient to run a hands-on fluorescence microscopy workshop with up to 24 students. 

For further information on the rental scheme, please contact us.

Informational training sessions 

  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Language: English 
  • Format: Virtual 
  • Topics covered in each session: 
    • Information about the rental agreement
    • Virtual training – how to assemble the microscope and image samples
    • Support for classroom workshop design and schedule
    • Introduction to the learning, teaching and support materials
Thursday, 21 Oct, 16.00- 17.30 
Thursday 18 Nov, 16.00- 17.30 
Thursday 14 Dec, 16.00- 17.30 



Information on purchasing the microscope available soon! Teaching and learning materials accompanying the microscope are provided free of charge.

MiA in the news

“Microscope in Action” featured at German Science on Stage festival, ELLS news, 6 September 2021

Building microscopes to learn biology, EMBL news, 10 February 2020

“Microscope in Action” goes into action, ELLS news, 28 November 2019

Science in a suitcase, EMBL news, 12 March 2018

Kickstart “Von Natur bis Technik – Mikroskope in Aktion”, ELLS news, 25 October 2017

European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS)

EMBL Heidelberg
Meyerhofstraße 1
69117 Heidelberg

Tel: +49 6221 387-8805
Fax: +49 6221 387-98252
Email us