Coverslip Traps

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In this activity, learners use coverslips to collect organisms from a pond, estuary or marine environment and then examine what they have caught with a microscope. The coverslips provide a substrate that encourages the formation of biofilms, which can easily be observed under the microscope. Younger learners will enjoy this activity but need adult supervision because a razor blade is used.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 4-inch thick-walled rubber tubing
  • Razor blade
  • 8 coverslips
  • String or monofilament fishing line
  • Fishing weights
  • Covered jar or Ziploc bag


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Viruses and Bacteria
      • Protists and Fungi
      • Classification
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity
  • Nature and Environment
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Olendzenski, Lorraine


Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0333402
  • National Science Foundation, 0333363