Microscopes are a simple yet powerful tool in the fields of science. The best part is they are easy to understand and operate, even for children. This relatively inexpensive instrument can encourage and foster a childhood interest in science and open the doors for ever-advancing learning.
This resource guide is designed to introduce microscopes and accompanying learning materials to children of all ages.
Getting The Right Microscope
Buying Microscopes for Kids: Learn how to find a microscope and what features to look for and which to avoid entirely.
The Best Kids Microscopes 2017: This guide from a review site breaks down the best microscopes by specification and price including actual images of magnification powers.
8 Best Microscopes for Kids and Teens: Another ranking of microscopes from an educational company.
Using Your Cellphone as a Microscope: For less than $5 you can attach a lens to your smartphone to create a rudimentary beginner’s microscope. This is a great way to test the waters before making a bigger investment for your kids.
Learning How to Use a Microscope
How to Use a Microscope: From WikiHow, this illustrated guide goes over the parts of a microscope, how to set them up and how to use them.
Microscopes 101: Learn step-by-step how to set up your first slide using a piece of newspaper.
Making Microscope Slides: Find other materials you can observe under a microscope and learn how to mount them on a slide.
Eight Fun and Easy Microscope Experiments: Here are step-by-step instructions on how to mount eight materials to slides, including spider webs and fabric threads.
Virtual Microscope Activity: This PBS learning activity allows students to try their hands at a virtual microscope before they get their hands on a real one.
Order Prepared Slides: Here you can order prepared slides direct from manufacturers to get neat specimens at a discounted price.
Microscope Maintenance and Cleaning: Learn how to keep your microscope clean and in good working order using both household and specialty products.
Microscope Books & Education
History of Microscopes: Did you know the technology for microscopes dates back to the 1200s? The compound microscopes we know today took centuries to develop and perfect.
Recommended Books for Older Kids: These books are written in more technical detail to expose older kids to the science behind microscopes.
Barnes & Noble for Younger Kids: Here are children’s books that introduce the purpose and cool finds associated with microscopes.
Zeiss Campus: For older kids who are interested in pursuing science, this educational portal provides lessons on advanced microscopy.
Here Are Our Additional Tips On Microscopes For Kids
Ask your local schools if they have microscopes in their science classes. If your child shows a special interest, the teachers may allow you to use one in-person before making a purchase.
Avoid the cheap, plastic “toy” microscopes for kids. They don’t work well and break easily, which can turn kids off of an otherwise amazing tool of science. They’re also surprisingly expensive. For just a little bit more, you can get a real, well-built scope that will nurture a budding interest in STEM fields.
Encourage your kids to learn about the history of microscopes, including the revolutionary discoveries we have today thanks to this simple technology. These discoveries include the introduction of germ theory and subsequent antiseptic procedures and even the development of medications and early disease diagnosis. Forensic science, which is used to analyze evidence in crimes, has a heavy microscopic component as well. Knowing the impact can help kids develop a deeper interest in what microscopes offer the world, and who knows—you, too, could make a world-changing, life-saving find using a microscope!
You can learn more about microscopes and science in general by visiting local children’s museums, science museums and other educational centers that explain scientific concepts on age-friendly levels. You can also creative mini mysteries for kids using the principles of forensic science. Create a field of evidence that requires matching fibers, plant material and other items to solve “whodunnit.”
Some parents are worried to purchase a microscope because they fear their kids will get bored with it after they view the same dozen slides. Don’t forget you can always make your own slides with different materials like fibers, insects, plants and human cells, but don’t sweat it if your child naturally drifts toward other projects, too. The small investment in a quality microscope is typically under $100, which is nothing compared to the value a well-educated child who could go on to love and study science. You can always donate the microscope to a local school or educational facility or pass it on to a younger family member.
Lastly, don’t forget about maintenance. Microscopes are overall sturdy, but some small parts are delicate and require careful cleaning. Never use homemade products unless your manual says you can. Some glass cleaners and oil products may damage the lenses and moving parts.