Children are naturally curious about the world around them, and even in their early years they can start to develop a deep interest in science and discovery. You can encourage their interests in these activities early on with a simple and fun tool—a microscope.
A microscope can open up a whole new world for children as they discover the “invisible” world of microscopic elements that they can’t see with their eyes.
Choosing a child’s microscope carefully can build their interest in science and ensure this tool doesn’t become just another toy.
When you begin looking at all your microscope options, here are some things to consider looking.
- High Power – From the very start, your kids need to see things through their microscopes that are exciting and interesting. The microscope needs to have enough power to show them something new and amazing.
- Cordless – If you have kids who like to move around, cords can get in the way. And there’s no reason why science has to be an indoors activity. Cordless options let them take the microscope with them wherever they go and easily set it up and start exploring the world.
- Magnification – A lot of toy microscopes claim they offer 1000x magnification which is probably not exactly true and definitely unnecessary. Look for something that allows up to 400x magnification and you’ll get everything you need. This means a 10x eyepiece and a 4x, 10x, and 40x objective.
- Objectives – The objectives need to adhere to the DIN standards, which you can determine by looking for the number “160” marked on it. This refers to a 160mm tube length and is the standard for most educational and research microscopes.
- Eyepieces – Monocular is usually best for children because it has one eyepiece, making it easier to focus on the specimen slides.
- Stable– The microscope should have a good weight to it because that will make it steadier while in use. This means choosing metal over plastic. But at the same time, it shouldn’t be so heavy they don’t feel like they can take it outside.
- Powered light source – The microscopes that use a mirror can be frustrating for younger children. Good light is necessary for optimal slide viewing.
- Extras – To make the initial introduction fun and exciting, get a microscope that has a lot of good extras– stains, slides, labels, tweezers, prepared and plain slides, needles, and forceps.
For optimal results, look for high-quality equipment. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to shoot for the most expensive model, but it should have some quality components that are simple and easy to use while providing precise results.
A Couple Tips
Don’t buy a microscope because you want your children to be interested in science. Do it because they’ve already shown an intense curiosity in the world around them. They already have a natural curiosity, and a good microscope is a way to augment it.
You can also help keep their interest alive by providing a lot of new things to discover. Try buying a box of slides that have a wide range of samples, like plants, insects, tissues, water, and sand. Soon they’ll be ready to explore the world on their own and start cataloging their own samples.