If your kid is picking up a new hobby that has to do with science, discoveries, and experiments, try encouraging his or her passion by providing the necessary tools and accessories for studying. It may be just a phase or it may be the beginning of a career – your job as a parent is to make sure your little ones have all the means to explore their new passion and see where it leads them.
One of the coolest tools for kids to experiment with is a microscope. If you’re picking the right product, your child will get to learn fascinating things about cells and how they develop to create living organisms.
However, children have different needs and learning patterns compared to adults, meaning this buying guide may not be enough to make the little ones interested in this science field. They will mainly cater to products specifically designed to attract them and keep them interested, so here are some features you should consider.
Although we are talking about products mainly made with children in mind, this doesn’t necessarily mean that this hobby will be a cheap one. There are plenty of so-called microscopes for children made of cheap and flimsy plastic that won’t cost you more than $50-$60 but they cannot provide a clear image and might even cause vision problems in time.
According to specialists, the minimum price for useable children microscopes is around $200. For $300 you will already find a decent one, while professional items can easily end up costing $700 or even more. However, we don’t encourage you to spend a fortune on your kid’s new hobby unless you are sure he or she will stick to it in the long term.
Therefore, you may want to wait a couple of weeks and see if the little one is still serious about receiving a microscope as a gift before entering the first specialized shop and using your credit card.
What type of microscope should you look for?
After establishing a reasonable budget for your kid’s new hobby, it’s high time you learned more about the various types of microscopes available on the market.
Generally speaking, two types of microscopes will fit children and their needs – stereo (low-power ones), and compound microscopes (high power).
Stereo microscopes usually offer 10x-40x magnification and are the common choice for viewing flowers, rocks, insects, and any other object you may be holding in your hand. They are easy and ready to use so that all you have to do is put the sample directly on the microscope stage and view it. The recommended magnification for children is 20x.
Most of the stereo microscopes are made of durable yet lightweight materials and come with LED lights running on batteries to help you see better in all lighting conditions.
Compound microscopes should be used by bigger children and those who already have some experience in the field. These high-power tools can help you see things that you wouldn’t normally see with the naked eye, such as blood cells, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Under the right device, you will discover a mesmerizing and beautifully colored world, ready to reveal its secrets.
As we previously mentioned, these medical devices require previous training and experience to get them working. To be able to see through the lens, you’ll first have to prepare a microscope slide and coverslip. For children scopes, there is also the option of prepared slides or samples, similar to the ones used in biology and anatomy classes in high school and college.
The magnification rate of high-power microscopes usually ranges between 40x and 400x.
Even if we are talking about products specifically designed for children, this doesn’t mean they have to be flimsy or poorly made. Avoid scopes made of plastic or with cheap lenses that might affect your kid’s vision in the long term. Instead, opt for heavy-duty products that are sturdy and reliable, preferably the ones made of metal.
Functional children’s microscopes will need adjustment and some practice but they are the only ones that will keep your kid’s interest for a long while. They offer the “real deal”, meaning there are limitless possibilities to explore.