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Children are naturally curious, creative, and imaginative. Their minds crave information and the world of science allows them to foster these qualities. Science can be both exciting and extremely valuable; allowing kids to find their own answers about the world around them. Microscopes are an easy-to-use scientific tool that can be used by all kids. They allow budding scientists to view new aspects of the surrounding world.
There are many types of microscopes and it can be hard to figure out which is the best microscope for kids. Luckily, you’ll find that we’ve taken care of all the legwork, with in-depth reviews of some of the best products available, as well as a guide to help you make the right decision.
Our top pick Best microscope for teens
As our pick for Editor’s Choice, this microscope set can be used by beginners, as well as advanced, junior scientists. It’s loaded to the brim with features, which also come at an amazingly affordable price. It could also be considered the biggest “bang for your buck” on the list. Kids can take a look at various materials like slides, plants, insects, jewelry, coins, and more with a 10x magnification eyepiece that can magnify to 3 different levels.
What we love:
- This microscope functions as 2 different tools because of the included, dual-light sources. These 2 lights let the microscope magnify not only slides, but 3D, solid objects as well.
- The set entails a variety of accessories. With the microscope comes 5 blank slides, 4 prepared slides, 1 well slide, forceps, test tube, petri dish, and 2 bottles of stain.
- The 10x eyepiece can provide your child with 40x, 100x, or 400x magnification.
- Dual-focusing knobs make adjusting the view easy and simple.
Watch out for:
- Although the recommended age of this microscope is 9 years and above, you may find that the set is too advanced, and includes too many accessories for anyone under the age of 13.
- The microscope is battery-powered, and the dual-light sources could burn through battery-power fairly quickly.
Best microscope for younger kids
The Nancy B Science Club is a club every little kid wants to join. This company creates amazing tools and toys to get kids interested in the wide world of science. This beginner’s microscope can magnify to 3 various levels and provides them with a variety of activities and experiments. It is great for kids 8 years or older and can be a great introduction to science for an ever-growing, independent kid.
What we love:
- This set doesn’t simply include a microscope. Along with the tool comes an activity journal for hands-on experiences and more than 20 accessories, like slides, test tubes, and a petri dish.
- The style of the entire set is geared for the ‘younger kid.’ The colors are bold and the microscope includes playful designs around the exterior. Even the organization and illustrations shown in the activity journal are inviting and easy-to-use.
- There is an included, soft, rubber eye-cup that lets kids comfortably see slides at 30x, 100x, and 400x magnification.
Watch out for:
- We all live in a diverse, open world full of acceptance and the breaking of tradition. That being said, this microscope’s bright teal and purple appearance may not be every young kid’s wildest dream. Though many boys would probably love the color, be aware that this microscope could be more appealing to young girls.
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The pre-teen age is an impressionable time in your child’s life, as they are starting to mature and grow. This microscope kit has just about everything your pre-teen needs to keep them busy, but also challenge them to keep learning. The set comes in a cool-looking case that is both appealing to kids and scientifically-professional. It features multiple magnification settings, a wide array of accessories, and an easy-to-use design.
What we love:
- The magnification-power with this microscope is pretty impressive, since kids can use 6 various magnification levels varying from 20x-1,200x.
- Included with this affordable set is more than 50 accessories to help kids get in-touch with their inner scientist. Accessories include multiple prepared and blank slides, a spare bulb, specimen collectors, a petri dish, and even a shrimp hatchery.
- AMSCOPE’s microscope has a ton of added features for kids, like a color filter wheel that makes it easy to view certain objects, an extremely easy-to-use focus knob, and a durable metal arm for added strength.
Watch out for:
- Unlike others on the list, this microscope only uses 1 LED bulb (with an included spare) and a mirror for magnification purposes, which may make it hard to for kids to view solid objects.
- The set may be recommended for beginners, but for kids who are not familiar with all the scientific tools and how to use them, they may need assistance.
Best first microscope for toddlers
Kids are never too young to learn, and this microscope set designed with the youngest of children in-mind. It is designed with bright blue, yellow, and orange accents. Visually appealing and pint-sized, it’s also packed with quality. It is recommended for kids 3 years and older, uses 3 AAA batteries, is easy-to-use, and loaded with all the features your toddler needs.
What we love:
- Since the microscope is meant for much younger children, it has 2 extra-large eye-pieces to make viewing objects easy and comfortable. There is also a giant, focusing knob that makes using the microscope incredibly simple.
- The compartment in which you place the objects for viewing is flat and extremely large, so just about any flat or 3D object can be placed in the viewing-area.
- The GeoSafari Jr. Is great for beginners; simple to use and ultra-durable.
Watch out for:
- The microscope is simplified because of its intended user’s age, so it only has 1 magnification level (8x).
- If you’re looking to get the most for your money, this cute set does not come with any additional accessories (though your toddler may not even need them).
Best digital microscope for kids
This digital microscope is the least affordable on the list, but it sure does impress. It has all the cool features expected out of a professional microscope, with all the ease of children’s product. It can be used for both simple and complex projects. The microscope even includes a 3D mechanical stage and a built-in camera for a high-tech, digital imaging system. And instead of one, uncomfortable eye-piece, this microscope has two.
What we love:
- This digital set uses AC-power via a USB cable that can be plugged into a device or an adapter for the wall.
- The digital imaging system allows kids and teens to plug the microscope into a computer or device to capture still images, record live, and make measurements of the objects placed on the stage.
- This microscope can magnify to astounding levels, with 8 options from 40x-2,000x. And when kids are viewing objects, they can swivel the binocular eye-piece and rotate the viewing head up to 360 degrees.
Watch out for:
- This set is much more professional than other options and should only be used by older children, kids with microscope experience, or under the supervision of an adult.
- Even though this set is designed to last for a long time, it is the most expensive on the list. This microscope may not be considered the best budget-friendly option.
Best prepared microscope slides for kids
A microscope does your child no good if they do not have things to look at, and this prepared slide set can keep them busy for hours. Although it coincides with the ‘My First Lab’ microscope you saw earlier in the list, these slides can be used on virtually any type of microscope. The slides are safe, color-coded, and organized perfectly.
What we love:
- There are 24 slides in each set, but there is a total of 72 specimens available to view. This means that each slide holds multiple specimens, allowing for almost unlimited viewing-fun. My First Lab definitely optimized space and your budget with these slides.
- The specimens included on the slides cover a wide array of subject-matter, from plant, animal, and household specimens.
- My First Lab made these slides with shatter-proof glass, so you never have to worry about your kid’s safety while they are experimenting.
Watch out for:
- While the slides are designed to be generic, some may not fit on smaller microscopes or they may be harder to view with some microscope lighting-systems.
What to look for in a kid’s microscope
Microscopes can vary in size, style, and type. They can feature many functions and accessories. Some features may be more beneficial to children than others. The following factors should be considered before purchasing a microscope:
- Build/frame: The sturdier the product, the longer it will last. Products made of metal or heavy-duty plastics will last longer and outlast your child’s no-so-gentle touch. Microscopes made of high-quality materials will also be easier on your wallet in the long-run.
- Focus and magnification: The purpose of a microscope is to view objects that cannot be seen with the naked eye, so the product’s focus and magnification specs are extremely important (https://www.microscope.com/how-to-buy/). For younger children, you may not need to provide them with a microscope that has extremely-high magnification power. For older children, higher magnifications can be more useful.
- Illumination: You cannot view any slide or specimen on a microscope without a light source. These light sources can be halogen, LED, or fluorescent. LED lights are a popular choice because if their brightness and long-lasting capabilities. It is also important to consider how many lights a microscope uses and if it comes with replacement bulbs. Replacement bulbs for some products may be hard to find.
- Accessories and features: Each microscope will come with its own set of features and accessories. Young children will require less of these options, while older children can really thrive off of them. Pay attention to what is included with the product, like slides, specimen storage, tools, and instructions/activity books. You can also look for features that make using the microscope easier, like 2 eye-pieces instead of 1, mechanical viewing areas, adjustability, and color-focus.
Getting Started: A kids guide to using a microscope
The first step to using a microscope is understanding what it is used for and what it can do. A microscope is essentially a very large magnifying glass that lets kids view a variety of subject matter that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The invention of microscopes has allowed the advance of knowledge in almost every area of the science, medical and technological world.
But what are the differences between various microscopes? While there may be variations in each individual product, there are two main types of microscopes, which can be sorted into the following categories:
Low-power microscopes: This type is also called “stereo” microscopes and they are used to view opaque objects (like coins, rocks, etc.), with the lighting source splitting into two separate paths to give you a 3D view.
High-power microscopes: This type is also called “compound” microscopes and they are used to view translucent samples (like cells, bacteria, etc.), with only 1 lighting source that provides you with a flat-plane view.
No matter which type of microscope you choose for your child, many general functions are the same. Always be sure that your child uses the microscope on a flat, sturdy surface. You must learn the right way to turn on the light-source and adjust it to allow in different levels of light. Turning the focus knobs one way or another helps hone in on the specimen and the nosepiece can be rotated for magnification-changes.
Each type of microscope has its own instructions for use. Before use, you should ensure your child understands how to use the microscope properly. Luckily, most products come with great manuals on how to use each function properly. For step-by-step directions on how to get started, try beginning here (http://www.microscope-microscope.org/basic/how-to-use-a-microscope.htm).
Fun microscope experiments for kids
Kids can use their microscope in a variety of ways. After learning how to use slides, your child can view various fibers, foods, hair, and more.
Here you will find a few experiments or ideas to get your kid started on their microscope adventure:
- Spider web experiment: I feel as though it should be stated that a child should never go looking for spiders by themselves and you should always be aware of unfamiliar spider species. That being said, this experiment is pretty cool. You’ll only need a sample of spider web, a glass slide and some clear nail polish. First, place a bit of nail polish on the slide and let it dry for about 1 minute (don’t let it try completely). Next, place the slide against part of the web to capture it. Remove any extra web and place the cover on top of the slide. Your kid will be amazed at how the web looks under magnification.
- Onion experiment: This experiment is quite common because onions are pretty easy to come by. All you need for this experiment is an onion, tweezers, a slide, and a liquid. You can use water or methylene blue (to see color) for making this wet slide. The onion should be cut (by an adult). After it is cut, remove a piece of the clear membrane in between the onion layers. Place the membrane on the slide, add your liquid, and cover it. Onions are surprisingly interesting to look at but remember, they could make you and your kids cry.
- Money experiment: As long as you have some cash or coins on you, your kid can try this experiment. You need no slide or equipment other than the money and the microscope. Coins and dollar bills can work, and if you’re feeling generous, let them look at one of your more-expensive bills. All your child needs to do for this experiment is place the money directly on the viewing platform and ensure that the diaphragm is open to its maximum setting, to allow for maximum light-flow. Moving the coins and bills around lets kids get a closer look at how money is made, what it is made of, and all of the awesome colors and patterns that make it so complex.
Here are some great experiment ideas for beginners.
My First Lab - Duo-Scope Microscope
This is a budget-friendly yet high-quality microscope that goes far beyond being a toy. It’s a great starter-to-advance microscope for tweens and teens.View on Amazon
Our top pick is…
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, the ‘My First Lab’ Duo-Scope Microscope is our sure-fire winner. It can be used by a wide range of age groups, comes with a ton of accessories and ideas, and is budget-friendly. It is durable enough to be used for years and years and comes with all the necessary components for a good science experiment.