Microscopes are a great tool for kids and satisfies their abundant curiosity. There are a number of microscope designs and some even connect with a PC or MAC to enable a whole slew of additional features. Some are made for very young children while others are built with older kids in mind. We take a look at compound microscopes, stereo microscopes, beginner microscope kits, and even a mini microscope. Peruse our list of the best microscopes for kids of this year in our section below.
Top 5 Best Microscopes for Kids of 2017
Here are the all around best kids microscopes currently available.
The MFL Duo Scope is a monocular laboratory-grade microscope much like you’d find in a science lab at school. The My First Lab Duo-Scope is one of the best selling microscopes out there. It won the Top Toy Award by Creative Child Magazine. Great performance and a reasonable price makes this one of our top picks for the best microscopes for kids.
This one is specially designed and developed to enable budding scientists from ages nine and over to study specimens like organ tissue, blood cells, as well as view small specimens like insects and plants. This model comes with lots of extra goodies and is a great starter kit. In the box you’ll find 5 real microscope slides, cover slips, 4 prepared slides, a plastic dropper, 2 non-toxic dyes (red and blue), forceps, a pack of lens paper, a petri dish, a test tube as well as a teasing needle. This is the best microscope for 7 year olds and other kids around this age range.
The Duo-Scope is essentially two microscopes in one. It can function as a stereo or compound microscope. A stereo microscope acts as a dissector with light shining from from above. The Duo-Scope has soft light LED illumination. When flipped to compound mode, light shines from underneath which is perfect for viewing microscope slides.
The MFL Duo-Scope has 40X, 100X and 400X magnifications and an accompanying 10X eyepiece. This unit has an impact-resistant frame and is designed to ensure maximum portability.
This product has a monocular viewing head with integrated LED (powered by two AA batteries). The AmScope microscope is our pick for the best microscope for home use. The viewing head is bolstered by mirror illumination as well as an inbuilt color-filter wheel ideal for viewing various specimen types. It easily made our list of the best kids microscopes because it includes just about everything your kid will need for plenty of experiments. The AmScope Kids Microscope Kit has a white metal frame and a forward-facing rotating turret with 1200X, 600X and 300X magnifications.
It also features a coaxial coarse focus and a rack-and-pinion focus which enables young users to get clear images of their specimens. It has a durable and stain-resistant metal frame and a plain stage that has stage clips. These are handy for securing the specimen or microscope slide in place during viewing. The AmScope Beginner Kit microscope comes with a 52-piece accessory kit that includes brine shrimp eggs, a shrimp hatchery, a bottle of gum media, sea salt, Eosin and a spare LED bulb among others. A perfect way to get your kid started and engaged in the wonderful world that lies beyond the naked eye.
The Omano Student Compound Microscope is designed as a high-power microscope for examining microscope slides. It is recommended for elementary and middle school aged kids. It can also double up as a monocular stereo microscope for studying larger, solid specimens like coins, insects and plants. It has glass optics and a variable cool LED illumination, which is powered by three AA batteries, to ensure clear and sharp images.
The Omano OM117L has a wide-field 10X eyepiece and three achromatic lenses 4X, 10X and 40X which provide magnifications of 40X, 100X and 400X. The eyepiece can be locked into place to avoid loss and its head can be rotated through 360 degrees as is required. This item has an all-metal construction and comes with a huge assortment of starter experiment items. The Omano OM117L comes with all the relevant accessories, a manual and Usborne’s “The World of the Microscope” book, which has many fun and colorful experiments that can be carried out by little scientists.
The GeoSafari’s Educational Insights Micropro 48 piece set is ideal for home and classroom use. This is our pick for the best microscope for students. It is great budget option to test whether or not it will hold your child’s interest. The microscope has glass eyepieces and a power setting of 50X to 600X magnification to provide the young users with higher precision viewing. It features a built-in light source that requires two AA batteries to illuminate the viewing area as well as rack-and-pinion focusing to deliver bright, sharp images.
It has 10X and 20X glass eyepieces and offer 600X, 300X, 150X, 100X and 50X magnifications. The GeoSafari is a 48-piece microscopy set that includes high quality components, prepared slides and helpful features that are tailored for science learning at any age. The Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro Microscope Set also includes an 18-page instruction & activity guide to encourage scientific discovery and investigation.
The SE Mini 16X is a lightweight, compact and pocket sized microscope ideal for your little one to take with them on their backyard adventures and other such activities like field trips. It has a powerful 16X magnification that allows detailed views of objects such as stamps, coins, insects, plants etc. This product has two bright LED lights that sufficiently illuminate the viewing area. The SE MW10087L Mini 16X is easy to use and requires three AG7 batteries, which are already included. The focus can also be adjusted with ease. This microscope is ideal for general use and can be ideal for older kids as well as adults in viewing specimens on the go. The compact nature and excellent design helped propel this into our list of the best kids microscopes.
General Thoughts on Buying a Microscope for Curious Kids
Kid’s microscopes are educational tools intended to introduce the child to science. Education should not be forced onto a child thus by use of educational instruments parents can encourage their children to take interest in various fields of education. Given a nudge, some kids are overtaken with fascination and the new realms they can explore with magnification. Kid’s microscopes offer an easy, relatively inexpensive, and fun way for parents to get their children interested in the environment and science in general.
There are two main types of kid’s microscopes namely the traditional turret style (stereo or compound) and the digital kind. Traditional types are relatively heavy as the body is mostly made of metal. Compound microscopes utilize a compound optical system with an eyepiece and an objective lens while stereo microscopes show the object depth in a 3-dimensional image. Digital microscopes are connected to computers via the USB port to display images on a desktop monitor or laptop instead of looking into a lens. The strong build in the traditional turret style makes it more firm when the child leans over to look at the specimen.
Digital microscopes have gained popularity over the years ever since their introduction in 1999. Most of the computer microscopes double as both a compound and stereo microscope. The biggest drawback of some of these digital models is that they do not have an eyepiece and thus the specimen can only be observed via a computer. Additionally, on cheaper models, the image quality is relatively poor as compared to traditional microscopes.
Parents are advised to purchase a standard microscope so as to teach the child proper microscopy use such as operating the diaphragm, adjusting the fine and coarse focus knobs, proper microscope cleaning and so on. As a forewarning, these microscopes can be pretty expensive, so prepare yourself before you start to look into purchasing the best kids microscope. Cheaper models may topple easily, break, perform poorly, or even spill the sample.
There are a few kinds of microscopes we do not recommend for children. Purchasing a vintage microscope is not recommended since they offer very poor optics. Also, specialized ones like polarizing and inverted microscopes are too advanced for a child to use.
Taking the time to buying the best kids microscope for your family will encourage your child to be more curious about nature and will likely enhance their engagement in science schoolwork.
Main Benefits of the Best Kids Microscopes
A microscope designed for kids is an important educational tool geared to help the child learn science in fun way. The best kids microscopes come with all the odds and ends to help them discover a whole new world. Science is a very important subject and it can oftentimes be best to introduce children to it at a very early age. Children are able to absorb the most information at this early stage and can easily learn how to use various devices as well as develop an appreciation for experimentation.
For children to absorb knowledge and learn at their own depth and pace, their young minds must be interested by the subject in question. Therefore, if learning becomes fun the child will follow up with questions and eventually be learning and advancing without even knowing it.
Kid’s microscopes assist in teaching the child about the environment, the characteristics of every single living thing as well as their role in nature. Furthermore, they learn that there is much more to this world than meets the eye. The microscopes provide an opportunity for the kids to learn about important areas of science such as biology and microorganisms.
There are many variants of kid’s microscopes designed to cater to specific ages. Parents get to introduce their child into the world of discovery and investigation; and consequently create opportunities for the kid to develop essential skills like problem solving and independent thinking.
Most of the kids type microscopes are intended for children from the ages of five years and up. Younger kids may start with magnifying glasses then toy microscopes before using kid’s microscopes. Older children (12 years old and up) may use a compound microscope for school projects as it allows easy viewing of micro-organisms which cannot be seen by the naked eye.
You may want to consider picking out one of the best digital kids microscopes. These microscopes can also be connected to a computer through a USB port and the specimen can then be observed on the monitor. In addition they may be able to take pictures or record videos of the specimens they are studying. Stereo (dissecting microscope) kid’s microscopes mostly have 10X-100X magnification power and are used to view objects already visible to the naked eye but at close range. There are also portable type microscopes which are very ideal for outings to the park, camping trips, or field trips.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Kids Microscope
There is a huge selection of kids microscopes on the market. It makes sense for parents to weight a few key factors before making an investment. The type of microscope determines the kind of specimens that can be viewed. Additionally as the quality of optics goes up, the price rises with it too.
Parents are advised to avoid purchasing second hand microscopes unless it is from a trustworthy dealer or they have prior experience working with microscopes. This is to avoid the risk of buying a microscope that isn’t working properly or not well suited for educational purposes. Educational microscopes mostly have 4X, 10X and 40X objectives as well as a 10X eyepiece. The 400X magnification is more than appropriate for beginners.
The main goal is to introduce the child to science in a simple and fun way; plastic toy microscopes don’t offer the full experience. They are also difficult to focus as most of them lack a fine and coarse focus knob. Additionally, their objectives are not standardized, the resolution of the picture is equally low, and the low light intensity makes it hard to observe specimens in a proper manner. Some plastic toy microscopes are even falsely advertised as being capable of unrealistic magnifications like 1000X.
- Compound versus Stereo. The specimen the child is mostly interested in observing will determine whether a stereo or a compound microscope is best. Most young kids love to view specimens that can are already visible to the naked eye for instance leaves, bugs, coins, stamps and so on. A stereo kid’s microscope is ideal for them since it offers 3-dimensional images and requires no sample preparation. Compound kid’s microscopes are ideal for budding scientists mostly in their teenage years for viewing images of cheek cells, pond water and so on. Although compound microscopes require slide preparations, parents may also buy prepared slides. Luckily, most companies today are making dual microscopes that have compound and stereo capabilities.
- Monocular versus Binocular. A monocular (one eyepiece) design is the most ideal for the child since inter-papillary adjustments as in binoculars can be difficult for a kid to operate. With binocular microscopes, two eyepieces need to be adjusted to cater to different eye widths in people. Notably, there are trinocular microscopes which have three eyepieces with varying magnifications. The general rule of thumb here is to go with a monocular for young children and then upgrade to a more advanced microscope down the road.
- Optics and Image quality. A kid’s microscope that delivers a clear, sharp picture will not only be fun to use but will also keep the child engaged. Blurry, poor pictures will make it hard to keep the young mind interested. The image quality is mostly dependent on the quality and materials used in the construction of the objectives and eyepiece.
- Price. The key things that determine the price of any kid’s microscope is the modularity of the device, specialized objectives and optics, quality of the mechanical parts, and sometimes the brand name has a lot to do with it. It is important to note that most features in expensive units are not ideal for children. For instance, a microscope with advanced functionality like plan achromatic and apochromatic objectives are unnecessary for kids. Therefore, the best quality kid’s microscope does not have to be too expensive.
- Included Materials. Most kid’s microscopes come with prepared slides, software to manipulate specimen pictures, and instruction books with suggested experiments. This ensures that the child will start exploring right away and slightly takes the pressure off the parent to make the exercise interesting. Other necessary accessories include tweezers, dyes and clips. Some companies may sell the microscope with all the relevant accessories while some require separate purchases.
- Additional Factors. Some units must be plugged in the wall in order to function while others are powered with batteries. Portable microscopes (battery-powered) are the ideal for outdoor activities. The more adventurous child can take it on the go and view a lily leaf at the nearby pond, for example. You’ll also want to find a microscope with built-in light sources. This provides a better view when compared to mirrored light sources.