Most people remember using a Microscope as a kid, it’s probably one of the most captivating and easiest ways to engage any child and develop an early interest in learning and biology.
Many parents decide to purchase a microscope for their children around Christmas and I often get asked what microscope is best to buy for them? Or better yet, what kind of microscope is used in biology at school and college?
Usually, this is followed up by them linking me a cheap, toy microscope (frequently advertised with a 1000x magnification). But such a large magnification isn’t really required, there are more important things you should consider.
Best Childrens Microscopes Reviewed
When you’re choosing a microscope for your child, it’s crucial you select one which provides a real and exciting experience, that can really captivate an interest in learning and science.
Besides what other learning activity can you think of that is so fun? You and your child will be doing science together and observing something you’ll both surely remember for years to come.
How Much Should You Expect to Pay for a Kids Microscope?
The truth is that the best starter microscope for a child usually retails for at least 200 USD, it’s obviously ideal if you can spend a little more, however, there are cheaper options that do provide an acceptable image. There’s no denying that the cheaper microscopes tend to be more difficult to use and not as sturdy to operate. If you want to buy yourself a microscope similar to what schools and colleges use then these generally retail for around 400 USD, yet you might not have any need to buy a microscope for any more than this, as specialized lenses and optics can easily increase the cost. The reality is that some very advanced optics can be more expensive than the microscope itself, therefore if you’re buying with little experience in the world of microscopes, then it’s very easy to spend way too much, or too little and be left with a very poor quality one.
Should You Buy a Compound or Stereo Microscope?
As you want to keep your child interested, deciding whether to buy a stereo or compound microscope is one the main problems. It’s a wise idea to buy a stereo microscope if your child is very young, for example under the age of 10 and not too interested in seeing small objects. Additionally, a stereo microscope will be adequate if you don’t want to see very small objects and don’t wish to pursue specimen preparation.
You may want to opt to buy a compound microscope if you want to see smaller objects and are interested in preparing specimens. Therefore teenagers and older children are likely to be more interested if they are able to interact and explore the specimen in more detail, a compound microscope is also the best option if you intend on making your own slide collection.
A final thing to consider is that your child may not expect a stereo microscope if they had previous experiences using a compound microscope or seeing them being used in science textbooks and documentaries. In fact, they may see the stereomicroscope as more of a “toy” and potentially be very disappointed.
Will my Child Need Help using a Microscope?
Ultimately a microscope does require some education and learning, it is an instrument used by professionals and can be damaged easily if mishandled. Therefore at first, it’s a good idea to observe and guide your child when using the microscope, however, don’t be too concerned as this can be quality time and lots of fun.
Why You Should Avoid Plastic/Toy Microscopes
Where do I start? The cheap plastic toy microscopes often found in highly decorative and colorful packaging should be avoided at all costs. These are not always the cheapest option, considering that you can spend a little more and secure a microscope that can focus an image much better and provide an experience that far overshadows the cheaper, toy alternatives. If your priority is money, then you should opt for a more robust stereo microscope instead, these provide a superior learning experience and are lot more fun to use, after all, you’ll be achieving a much more detailed image that is brighter. So remember toy microscopes should be avoided when it comes to selecting your child’s microscope, they are basically novelty garbage.
Where Should I Buy my Kids Microscope?
You can pick a good selection of microscopes on Amazon, although avoid second-hand microscopes as you cannot guarantee that these are not damaged or overly worn. Additionally, by purchasing a brand new microscope you will be getting a warranty to protect you in the unlikely event that it arrives at you broken or if something breaks later down the line. Remember that the best microscope you can buy for your child is one that provides good focus and a sharp, bright image, therefore if funds are your concern opt for a robust stereomicroscope, or if you want to develop this hobby and experience superior images a compound microscope is the best option you have. Finally, avoid microscopes with specialized accessories or equipment.
What Accessories Will You Need?
It’s a wise idea to buy a microscope guide booklet offering simple instructions and it’s also a good way to familiarize yourself with the terminology. One with great illustrations can also keep your child captivated and motivated while learning; you will also require tweezers, slides, and coverslips which are very cheap. It’s also a good idea to purchase ready-made slide collections with a range of different specimens, you can then expand on these and make your own. This is also a good idea because it will mean you have something to see straight away when your microscope arrives, maintaining your child’s attention.
Our Top Picks
The AmScope Forward Binocular Stereo Microscope
The AmScope microscope is a great option to get started exploring science, with a sturdy and robust stand it’s sure to provide both you and your child with superior observations of the inside structures of cells and other specimens. Additionally, this binocular pillar-stand stereo microscope provides three amazing magnification powers, 20X, 40X & 80X.
OMAX Digital Lab LED Binocular Compound Microscope
This OMAX is our top pick and has everything you need for the ultimate fun learning experience for you and your child. Incredibly, it can be linked to your laptop or PC via a USB connection means you can have easy viewing and even record and take photographs of your specimens. It also includes a 5-year warranty for long-term peace of mind. In our view, this is the best microscope for kids to get started!
OMAX Digital Lab LED Binocular Compound Microscope
The final offering is another OMAX microscope, this is slightly more expensive than the one that made out top pick and offers additional features such as a double stage and higher quality optical pieces, however for a beginner, these aren’t essential. This microscope like the top pick also comes with a built-in USB Camera, enabling you and your child a great, interactive experience.
And so hopefully from this guide, you can choose the right microscope for your child and yourself. As a parent myself I completely understand how difficult it can be when shopping for a microscope especially when you don’t have much knowledge!