Backyard Biology

Nature stories from my backyard and beyond

Pick of the Month

Celestron 44202 Advanced Stereo Microscope

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

So often I have heard of parents who bought their child a microscope only to have it sit in the box forgotten after being used only a few times. Invariably, the parents bought the wrong kind of microscope. Not knowing much about microscopes, they bought the microscope that looks like the “typical” microscope rather than the microscope that fits the needs of their child.

Microscopes come in two basic styles; the compound microscope and the dissecting microscope. The compound microscope is the “typical” scope that you use in biology class. It can magnify objects from 40 times to 1,000 times. Specimens are put on a glass slide in a drop of water and covered with a glass coverslip. These are great for looking at cells and bacteria. This is NOT the type of microscope I recommend for children. Most children have limited interest in cells and bacteria and soon loose interest.
What children are interested in are their hands, frogs, rocks, insects and all of the other big things that would not fit under a compound scope. For looking at these objects, you need a dissecting scope, like the one pictured above. This microscope magnifies object 20 and 40 times; perfect for the needs of a child. Find a special “microscope place” where the microscope is always ready to use and you will find your child constantly finding new things to look.

Then when the kids have gone to bed, don’t be surprised to find yourself using it as much as the kids.




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