Plankton Microscopy


There is a basic microscopy lab on board, located in the cabin.  Lake samples can be observed on-board and classes are free to take samples with them at the end of the program. 

Our instructors will lead teams through a basic observation/evaluation of plankton samples collected at the Plankton Trawl station.  Depending on the objectives and age of the group, we will complete the following tasks.

Basic microscopy

  • Parts of microscope, scaling, etc.
  • Preparing plankton samples and viewing them under microscopes.

Plankton Identification

  • phyto plankton vs. zooplankton
  • Use of visual keys
  • Taxonomy

Population Analysis

  • Comparison of depth-specific samples
  • Niche evaluation
  • Relative density, etc.

Observations & Discussion

Teams will complete the appropriate portion of their lab sheets, noting types of organisms found, population density and other factors as appropriate. 


  • Organism specific studies:  life cycle and adaptations
  • population dynamics
  • Comparison to historical data from academic sources and previous Floating Classroom years.