Re: [Histonet] Offtopic - Microscope for kids

From:John Kiernan

Don't buy one without first having a look at 
something with it yourself. 

Even in the highest of the price ranges you 
mention the optics cannot be of high quality, 
so there's no point getting anything with an 
objective that's more than X10. The mechanical 
parts are also likely to be stiff, loose, or 
otherwise not easy to control.

The best value for money is a 2nd-hand student
microscope. University departments often sell
these off for $100 or less, and you'd be lucky
to get an equivalent new instrument for $1000.

An old student microscope would not impress your
8 year-old son, because it would need too many 
adjustments (condenser, brightness, centering, 
positioning the slide etc). 

My experience with children and microscopes is 
that those younger than about 13 find it difficult 
to keep an eye steadily in place over an eyepiece 
- not too far away (nothing visible), not too 
close (disturbing images of reflected bent 
eyelashes), and not wobbling either.

Children need help finding something to look at
because moving the slide is another difficulty
(especially if you don't have a mechanical 
stage, which is 2 more knobs). Focusing is a
must, of course, and using coarse and fine
knobs can easily be taught. 

>From my experiences with children (including me, 
my friends long ago, my 5 grown-up kids, and some of our 
grandchildren), you need to be 16 to handle a 
real microscope. Not everyone would agree. 

The Royal Microscopical Society (in Britain)
has been campaigning for "a microscope in 
every school" for several years. "Every
school" means elementary schools, which are
for under-11s in the UK. The RMS has identified
various kinds of microscope appropriate for
children. They have a major web site,
Click on the Education tab, then on AMFES to
get their advice on paedomicrophilia.

Consider buying your son a X10 lens and 
showing him how to see a spider's fangs or
the stinging hairs of a nettle.

Hope this helps! 
                 John Kiernan
                 London, Canada.
John A. Kiernan
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
The University of Western Ontario
London,   Canada   N6A 5C1

Kim Merriam wrote:
> Hello all,
> My 8 year old son wants a microscope for Christmas.  I have been searching on the internet for a decent one that does not cost an arm and a leg.  It seems like there are lots of cheap ones in the $12-30 range and then some nice ones that are in the $100-200 range.  Does anyone know where I could get one that costs around $50-70 that is not a piece of junk?  I would like 2 or 3 objectives.  Of course, the slides need not be included!
> Thanks in advance,
> Kim Merriam
> Novartis
> Cambridge, MA
> Kim Merriam
> Novartis
> Cambridge, MA
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