This is a topic close to my heart. A couple of years ago we searched for and bought Caspar a microscope. He loved it but more as a toy than a tool. It was flimsy and quickly broke, it was a big disappointment. Since then we have been again looking for an age appropriate quality microscope. Without seeing this one in person we took a risk and bought it. What a relief, it's is perfect and he can use it for real.
The box says for ages nine and up. Caspar is five and can use it easily. Sometimes he needs help focusing but with patience it's something with most objects he can do (it's trickier with 3D objects).
The first thing I did was make a Nomenclature Book. Caspar and I went through the book and I also explained some additional features unique to this microscope. This gives Caspar the right words, the correct language for the use of the microscope.
We took about twenty minutes to run through how to use the microscope, how to care for it (storage and cleaning) and how to carry it. This microscope has three objective lenses but at the moment Caspar is only using two the 4X and 10X. The eyepiece (ocular lens) is 10X. To focus on an object we move the stage to the lowest point, look through the ocular lens and then slowly move the stage up until the item is in focus.
Besides being a really simple to use I love that you can observe solid and transparent items. It has two light sources. One above the stage and one below it. So if the child would like to observe a solid item like a coin they use the light source above the stage. If they would like to observe a transparent item like a feather they use the light source below the stage. It's a wonderful tool for exploring items from nature and so much more.
Some of the items we are observing include;
- flower petals and leaves (fresh and dried)
- tree bark
- nut shells
- fruit peel
- dirt speaks
We have collected a few prepared slides. I have only introduced prepared slides of items that Caspar is already familiar with.
This is what it's all about. Feeling between your fingers, looking with the naked eye then placing under the microscope (or in this case looking at the prepared slide). This is Caspar looking at salt. "Wow have a look at this, it's square!". There is much enthusiasm and much excitement in our house. Shall I say a love of learning?
Our microscope is the Duo Scope. I ordered it online from Windmill. I have seen it stocked locally but at an increased price. It's available much cheaper (less than half the price) in the US as seen here but I couldn't find anyone who would ship it internationally.
What else can youngsters do with a microscope? How about Science Notebooking?