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choosing student microscopes

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microscopes

selecting microscopes

Which microscope to choose? There are two basic microscopes types: compound (high-power) and stereo (low-power). Which microscope you choose depends on what you plan on viewing.

Compound microscopes are the type with one eyepiece and are great for looking at very small things like amoebas in pond water. With a compound microscope you can view the internal structures of cells or bacteria, and these are the microscopes you use with microscope slide sets. The range of magnification on a compound microscope is usually between 40x and 1000x, although some are capable of higher or lower magnifications. Because there is only one eyepiece, the viewer sees a two-dimensional (flat) image of the specimen - usually reversed and upside-down. Compound microscopes are the type most people think of when they think of classic lab microscopes, and they provide children with the most opportunities for study. These microscopes should be used with a light source under the specimen, which must be an object that will allow at least some light to pass through it. A blade of grass is fine, but a coin would not work.

If you need a microscope to look at grains of sand, the weave of a piece of cloth, or the body of a butterfly, you should consider a stereo microscope. Stereo microscopes (also called low-power, or dissecting microscopes) have two eyepieces and allow you to see depth while viewing your specimen, so that it appears in 3 dimensions rather than flat. Unlike compound microscopes, which require specimen preparation and slides, stereo microscopes allow the student to view an opaque specimen such as a rock or a stamp. Stereo microscopes which have bottom lighting are great for viewing transparent specimens too, but are not powerful enough to view microscopic organisms. Magnifications of stereo microscopes typically range from 10X to about 80X.

microscopes reviewed

The following are a few of the best microscopes for homeschooling:

Ultimate First Lab Microscope Digital - This is a great way to preview live color digital images directly from your microscope onto your computer via the USB port. Great for printing out examples of the science lessons your children are completing.
My First Lab Duo-Scope - This one microscope acts as both a compound microscope and a stereo microscope! With two light sources, it can magnify both slides and solid objects. Includes a 50 piece activity kit, great for unpacking and getting started right away.
My First Lab Microscope - This microscope is aptly named and will give your child the chance to become familiar with the microscopic world. This microscope is affordably priced, making it ideal for homeschool use.

activities for microscopes

Now that you've picked out the microscope for you, what are you going to do with it? Here are some excellent microscope accessories and activities for you to choose from:

Digital Microscope Eyepiece Kit - This digital eyepiece is an inexpensive way to upgrade just about any stereo or compound microscope into a digital microscope. The combination digital camera with built in 10X eyepiece is a great way to preview live color digital images directly from your microscope onto your computer via the USB port. It comes with software for viewing, editing and saving images. Microscope adapter allows it to be used on virtually any microscope.
Prepared Slide Sets 1 - The Elementary Level set contains 12 different slides: cotton fibers, nylon fibers, corn starch, salt crystal, wool fibers, silk fibers, stem of pumpkin c.s., legs of honey bee, pollen, bird feathers, hydra w.m. and frog blood smear.
Prepared Slide Sets 2 - The Intermediate Level Set includes: hair, sugar, pepper, yeast w.m., tendon l.s., bacteria (3 types), fly head, fish skin, human blood smear, paramecium w.m., wing of house fly, cotton leaf c.s., cotton stem c.s., Penicillium Sec., Hydra l.s., Lily Anther Sprout l.s., Monocotyledon stem c.s., Dicotyledon stem c.s., simple Squamous Epithelium, stratified Suamous Epithelium, cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, testes and mammal ovary.
Prepared Slide Sets 3 - The High School Level 25 Slide Set includes: loose connective tissue, spinal cord c.s., motor nerve ending, stomach, mammal sec., kidney c.s., artery and vein c.s., blood vessel of lung, blood vessel of kidney, taste bud, mouth smear, human sperm smear, mitosis of animal cell, hydra thru testis c.s., hydra thru ovary c.s., hydra with bud fern prothalium w.m., zea mays seed l.s., spirogyra, lung, mammal colon, mammal trachea, mammal pancreas, mammal uterus, mammal spleen, and onion root tips.
World of the Microscope - A fascinating, hands-on introduction to using microscopes, this book is packed with exciting projects which reveal the amazing detail of the world around us. Illustrated, step-by-step instructions for techniques such as lighting, mounting, sectioning and staining show how to get the best from a microscope.
Complete Book of the Microscope - Fantastic photographs reveal the secrets of the micro world, from alge to atoms, dust to DNA. This information-packed book includes step-by-step project ideas to help you get the most from your microscope and practical information on taking care of microscopes.

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