science education resource

For K-12 Students • Educators • Homeschool Families • Naturalists

Cheek Cell Investigation

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Objectives:
Observe animal cells

Materials per student (or team):
• microscope
• clean microscope slide and cover slip
• clean flat toothpick for each student (never share toothpicks)
• eye dropper
• stain - methylene blue staining solution (iodine solution can be used as an alternative stain)
• paper towels

Procedures:
1. Use the eye dropper to put a drop of methylene blue stain on a slide. (Be careful as it will stain clothing.)
2. Take a flat toothpick and gently scrape the inside of your cheek to collect some epithelial cells.
3. Gently swirl the cells on the toothpick into the methylene blue drop on the slide. (Throw out the toothpick.)
4. Carefully place a coverslip over the cells on the slide at an angle to push out any air bubbles.
5. Observe the cells under the microscope at 40x, 100x and 400x. Start with low power to locate the cells. Then switch to higher power. Use the fine adjustment only.
6. Draw the cheek cells at three different magnifications.

Study a typical animal cell to compare to your cheek cell.

Compare to a plant cell investigation.

Cheek Cell Investigation

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Citing Research References

When you research information you must cite the reference. Citing for websites is different from citing from books, magazines and periodicals. The style of citing shown here is from the MLA Style Citations (Modern Language Association).

When citing a WEBSITE the general format is as follows.
Author Last Name, First Name(s). "Title: Subtitle of Part of Web Page, if appropriate." Title: Subtitle: Section of Page if appropriate. Sponsoring/Publishing Agency, If Given. Additional significant descriptive information. Date of Electronic Publication or other Date, such as Last Updated. Day Month Year of access < URL >.

Here is an example of citing this page:

Amsel, Sheri. "Cheek Cell Investigation" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2021. September 25, 2021
< http://www.exploringnature.org/db/view/Cheek-Cell-Investigation >

Exploringnature.org has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.