Carlqua

A Microscope for my Son

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Hi all, my name is Carl and I have a science-mad 11 year old son!

He likes school and all but he loves nothing more than going out, looking at wildlife, he appreciates plants and so on and they have introduced him to using the microscope at school recently to take a closer look at the cells and microstructures that make up living and inanimate matter.

He says he doesn't get enough time on the microscopes at school, and would really love to have one at home and well I would love to buy him one to encourage his hobbies and so I have been looking around and wondering if you guys on this forum have any suggestion. There's one thing for certain, I'm not interested in getting him a plastic toy one for kids.

I have seen you can buy regular microscopes that I remember when I was at school but they also have USB ones which connect to a computer which I think would be great for future school projects but I was wondering if you guys know of any downsides to them?

Furthermore, I know slides are needed and maybe a pair of tweezers but do you think there would be any other equipment I would need alongside it?

I would really appreciate any advise form you guys, you seem really helpful.
I do apologize if I have posted this in the wrong category!

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Posted (edited)

Everything depends on availability of money and your willingness to spend it.. ;)

You could buy him one of Bresser microscopes, which have LCD screen. They allow making photos, and videos, on demand, after clicking button, which can be uploaded to e.g. YouTube or Vimeo. Data are stored on memory cards, or transferred directly to computer through USB.

This one costs here $240:

 

Edited by Sensei

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9 minutes ago, Carlqua said:

I have seen you can buy regular microscopes that I remember when I was at school but they also have USB ones which connect to a computer which I think would be great for future school projects but I was wondering if you guys know of any downsides to them?

So, it depends. If you want to take pictures you need a camera (which is the part connected to computer via USB). Depending on quality it can drive up the cost a fair bit. Typically, those microscopes have a mirror that allow you to direct the light path either to the viewport to your eyes or to the camera. Other things to consider are the level of magnification you need. Low magnification with higher quality is often more fun than a low quality microscopy with high amplification, but lousy optics. 

For sample prepration, it depends a fair bit on what you want to look at. For starters I would recommend tweezers, mounting media (if you want to preserve slides) and perhaps look for non-toxic stains that you could get (or prepare slides for him, until he is a bit older).

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18 minutes ago, Carlqua said:

but do you think there would be any other equipment I would need alongside it?

If you want to see how microorganisms grow up with time you will need Petri dish (quite inexpensive).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petri_dish

After adding agar and nutrients, they will turn to "agar plate":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar_plate

 

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25 minutes ago, Sensei said:

If you want to see how microorganisms grow up with time you will need Petri dish (quite inexpensive).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petri_dish

After adding agar and nutrients, they will turn to "agar plate":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar_plate

I'd be a bit careful with that, especially around younger kids. Creating sterile plates without an autoclave is a bit tricky (though not impossible). However, especially with non-selective media it is easy to accidentally growth pathogens on it. Without proper training and environment it is not a good idea to have kids play with those.

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Hi, thanks so much for your input its much appreciated!

I'm not sure we'll be cultivating microorganism colonies in petri dishes at this stage though, I think that's a bit advanced for both of us :D Thanks for the suggestion it's certainly interesting and something to think about maybe when he's a bit older.

The Stains is a good suggestion, I didn't think of that but yes I know that's used quite extensively in microscopy!

The Bresser Microscope you suggested Sensei looks really awesome! I was looking around at similar ones and the guy on this site (https://microscopespot.com/best-usb-microscope/) suggests Celestron as a good option with a 5MP camera and its right in my budget range, not sure if the site is trustworthy or not though :/ There's certainly a price difference between the two but the Bresser you recommend does have a higher magnification and a sweet screen on it. 

Something to think about, thank you!

 

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Posted (edited)

Handheld USB microscopes are toys.. For electrician/electronic engineers mostly.

There are even for $14

https://www.ebay.com/bhp/digital-microscope

See also micro USB endoscope which must be connected to smartphone. Good to have, just in case.

 

But if you're serious with buying microscope, you should search for "microscope with lcd screen with usb" rather than "usb microscope".

 

Edited by Sensei

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On ‎31‎/‎07‎/‎2018 at 9:44 PM, Sensei said:

You could buy him one of Bresser microscopes, which have LCD screen. They allow making photos, and videos, on demand, after clicking button, which can be uploaded....

I bought one of those for work. I thought it might be a bit rubbish as it was only about £160.00 - but it is pretty good for what it is and does. I didn't really need to get a high end one for what I needed it for but it makes a good microscope for the price with photo ability in case one is ever needed. I was surprised by it - it isn't bad at all for taking basic pictures of samples.  The photo functionality is pretty good compared to what microscopy pictures used to cost a decade or 2 ago.

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