Children's microscopes are a great way to encourage a child's budding interest in science. These marvelous educational tools let children see the world as they've never seen it before. A microscope for kids provides a fun way to take the science out of a textbook and into the real world. Most child-friendly scopes are an easy-to-use tool and include extra equipment for extended fun. This article discusses many features of children's scopes and what children can do with them.
What Children Can Do Many come with prepared slides to give children their first taste of the microscope's abilities. Kits usually come with additional slides so that children, with an adult's help, can collect other things to investigate. Small natural objects make great specimens, including blades of grass, leaves and flower petals. The refrigerator will probably have some good options as well, such as vegetable and fruit skins. Children will delight in examining the seemingly invisible tiny lifeforms in collected pond water. Microscopes are great teaching tools and often help supplement a child's current science studies in school. Having a scope is a great way to teach children directly and provide a way for children to learn independently.
Important Features Specific to Children's Microscopes There are many important things to look for in a children's scope. First, it must be easy for children to use. If the device requires frequent assistance from an adult, a child will be less likely to use it consistently without an adult present. Children can be rough with their belongings, so it's best to pick a durable model made with quality metal parts. Plastic models that feel more like toys than the real thing and may not last through the years.
The Types of Microscopes There are many types, but the two most common types are compound and stereo scopes. Stereo scopes are best for looking at the details of larger things, such as stamps or buttons. These have a light on both the bottom and the top of the viewing area so that users can look at objects that are not transparent. These don't require the use of slides. Compound scopes have a single light on the bottom of the viewing area for illuminating transparent objects. This lets the user see things that are invisible to the naked eye. Some manufacturers produce microscopes that are both compound and stereo.
Years ago, most scopes illuminated the viewing area by reflecting light onto a mirror. Today, many have a built-in light, usually an LED. Mirrors are tricky to align for optimum viewing, so it's better to choose a microscope with a built-in light source for easier use. LEDs are superior to other types of lights because they don't kill or destroy specimens with intense heat. Some devices are cordless and rely on disposable or chargeable batteries to operate. Most models have a range of magnifications, from 100x-900x, though some models go as low as 40x and others as high as 900x.
Additional Equipment When you're choosing a microscope kit, compare what each kit includes. Some come with study aids and useful information beyond a basic instruction manual. Many kits come with extra items such as blank slides and vials. Other sets come with advanced tools like scalpels, Petri dishes, forceps, slide labels and more. These advanced tools give children easy ways to collect samples for examination. Younger children should always be supervised by an adult when using cutting tools, however.
Popular Choices The TK2 Scope is both a compound and stereo microscope. This moderately priced model is a good starter model for children. This is cordless and powered by batteries. The viewing area is lit by two LEDs. It also boasts an impressive starter kit of tools including additional slides, scalpel, forceps, tweezers and collection vials. This unit also comes with comprehensive information and an experiment book detailing how to collect new specimens.
The MicroProElite Microscope Set consists of 98 items for microscope exploration. This deluxe compound kit comes with a wall projector so that children can show off their discoveries to a group. The included camera mount allows your child to take pictures of specimens. The kit contains a variety of prepared slides for immediate investigation. The set also comes complete with a traveling case. Standard additional tools such as blank slides are provided as well.
My First Lab I-explore Scope is a battery-powered stereo microscope. Children can use this scope to examine the details of larger objects without using slides. This unit uses a binocular-style scope so that your children won't have to squint. This sturdy unit is great for outdoor trips, allowing children to investigate nature at the source. With a large viewing area, this device is great for inspecting flowers, household objects and much more.