Most people remember using a microscope as a kid and microscope experiments are 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 kids microscope for their children around Christmas and I often get asked what is the best microscope for kids? Or better yet, what is the best microscope for students who want a beginner microscope to use for their studies 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) that isn’t beneficial even as a toddler microscope.
Such a large magnification isn’t really required, there are more important factors that you should consider when looking for either the best kids microscope or the best beginner microscope for students.
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Quick Picks: Best Kids Microscopes Compared
*All links above will take you to the latest prices on Amazon.com, or you can read our in-depth kids microscope reviews below.
How Much will the best microscope for kids cost?
The truth is that the best microscope for kids usually retails for at least $200, it’s obviously ideal if you can spend a little more, however, cheaper options can still provide an acceptable image. It really does depend on the quality you expect.
There’s no denying that the cheaper beginner microscopes tend to be more difficult to use and not as sturdy to operate. If you want to buy yourself or a kid a beginner microscope similar to what schools and colleges use, then these generally retail for around $400.
This is about the maximum you would need to spend on a microscope for kids or a microscope for students as going beyond that is professional level equipment of which there would really be no need for at this stage.
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 very poor quality.
Should You Buy A Compound Or Stereo Microscope?
Deciding whether to buy a stereo or compound microscope is one the main considerations when buying a microscope. If you are buying for a young child, it’s a wise idea to buy a stereo microscope.
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 beginner microscope option if you intend to enter a science based education, you can practise on making your own slide collection at home.
A final thing to consider is that your if your kid is a high school or colege student with quite a passion for science, they may not expect a stereo microscope. If they have had previous experiences using a compound microscope or seeing them being used in science textbooks and documentaries they may expect more.
In fact, they may see the stereo microscope as more of a “toy” and potentially be somewhat disappointed as they do not tend to make the best microscope for a student.
Will My Child Need Help Using A Beginner Microscope?
Ultimately a microscope does require some education and experience to use correctly. 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 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, they certainly do not make the best microscope for kids or your wallet.
The toys 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 and a lasting quality 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.
In summary, a well made, beginner microscope may seem like too much of an expense when shopping for a child, but it will last them for years if it is treated right. They can use it for school and science projects, especially if it’s a digital microscope and they can upload their work or print it out to use. It can even be used for art class too!
Giving them the responsibility of owning and using a real microscope rather than a throw away toy is also showing them that you trust them, and that you encourage their interests. This will only help to nurture their passion for science, and encourage them to pursue their interests and academic success.
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.
Top Picks: Best Microscope for Kids Reviewed
#1 JuniorScope Microscope for Kids
The JuniorScope Microscope is the ideal microscope experience for kids. Made from a combination of metal and plastic, this scope is extremely durable.
Although it’s a little more expensive than most kids microscopes, there’s little doubt that it will likely last right through their academic life as a student. And thanks to everything else that is included a truly educational experience.
The magnification of the JuniorScope includes three different levels, allowing for macroscopic scanning of the entire slide sample and more in-depth zooming and inspection of smaller and often important details.
What makes this kids microscope stand out among many others is just how comprehensive it is. It’s a complete educational science kit that includes a guide book called the “World of the Microscope” that details a good range of fun experiments that can easily be carried out at home.
It also includes all the other accessories required for a true hands-on microscopy experiment. This includes tweezers, forceps, petri dish and more.
#2 Thames & Kosmos Kids Microscope
Another great contender is this well-packaged and complete microscope set by Thames & Kosmos.
It’s a stereo-microscope, which makes it ideal for carrying out a wide range of fun and exciting biology experiments.
It also includes a good selection of accessories making it suitable as a student microscope.
Just like the JuniorScope, this one also comes with superb optics including three different objective lenses (40, 100 and 400x) and a 10x ocular lens. This enables kids to scan entire slides and zoom in on precise locations so that they can see more intricate structures like cells.
The microscope also comes with pre-made slides, meaning kids can get started straight away. This includes a slide prepared with frog cells, wool fibres and even onion cells, allowing them to view intricate structures of real cells.
It also includes all the accessories required for preparing your own samples from scratch and comes with a very detailed guide that provides instructions on slide preparation and microscope use.
#3 Gosky Microscope Kit for Kids
The Gosky Microscope kit is another great choice for students and kids with a passion for science and biology.
It includes an innovative smart phone adapter that allows kids and students to take photos of their findings, store them digitally and share them online.
Another great feature is the built-in rotating color filter which enables your child to observe different details of a specimen compared to using white light.
The Gosky microscope kit includes an impressive 36 piece accessory set. In the kit is everything needed for a fun filled learning adventure, such as slides, tweezers and a selection of pre-made slides so that Kids can get started right out of the box.
The Gosky scope also features LED illumination, allowing a wide range of samples with varying transparancy and thickness to be viewed with ease.
From this guide you should now be able to choose the right microscope for your child.
As a parent myself I completely understand how difficult it can be when shopping for a microscope especially when you don’t have the necessary knowledge about microscopes!
It’s very tempting to go for an attractive kids microscope kit, with funky packaging and extra toys included but they just aren’t great value for money. They’re not durable, they’re not authentic and they haven’t got the balance that a real beginners microscope has.
Science in itself is great fun, wonderful and highly rewarding, so why not choose a microscope that they can use for years to come for their science projects and their college work?
Not only does it make them feel like you have the trust in them to use such a piece of equipment, but it gives them an authentic experience which can only ignite and fan the flames of their passion for science encouraging them to achieve more.
About the Author
I started MicroscopeSpot to help other people learn everything there is to know about the world of microscopes. From how to use them, to how to maintain and choose one for your intended purpose.
As a parent and scientist (haematology) myself I know the value of honest and practical information. All of the information provided on MicroscopeSpot are genuine, honest opinions that aim to provide guidance to the student, hobbyist and professional.