Matthew received a microscope from Grandma and Grandpa for his 10th birthday last year! To be honest I think I was more excited than the kids at first.
I’m blessed that my parents are always so practical, so they handed over the money and said to select something Matthew would like. And this is where I’m always torn between toys or something educational. Are you frequently in the same boat? Such a tough boat to be in.
So anyway, I decided that we would use the money to get a microscope for him. I did the research to find out which microscope would fit our needs and budget. I wanted something that is high quality with good magnification and priced around $100.
My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope fit the bill perfectly. It’s about CAD$100 at the time of this writing. It features 40x, 100x and 400x magnifications and uses real glass optics. It runs on battery power, which is helpful for when we need it to be mobile and portable.
I like the fact that it has two light sources — the first light source shining up from underneath to view microscope slides (called “compound microscope”), and the second light source shining from the top to view solid objects (called “dissecting stereo microscope.”)
The kit included 4 prepared slides, 5 blank slides, and 1 concave slide — all made of glass. I’m glad I also ordered additional prepared slides because it made the first experience so much more impactful for both boys.
Before the introduction, I set it up and played around with it first. I needed to learn how to use the equipment first so I would know how to demonstrate to my kids. I briefly contemplated if it was right to open Matthew’s gift, but in hindsight I’m glad I did; it was the right move for us. I highly suggest to take some time to familiarize yourself with the equipment and included materials first.
Once I did, I decided that putting it all back into the box for the gift opening would be a bad idea. Instead, I set it up right away on our shelf.
(For the sake of the birthday gift reveal, I covered the setup with a plastic bag with instructions to remove the cover only when everyone is ready for a demonstration.)
I won’t sugarcoat it — it was super difficult to keep those hands away while I demonstrated how to hold and handle the microscope. They wanted to dig into it right away! After a few minutes, Zachary had already climbed onto the table so he could get a better view.
My main points of interest for them to observe were:
- How to hold the microscope — by holding the neck with one hand, and the base on the palm of the other hand.
- How to manipulate the focus — fingers of both hands dialing the knobs on the side.
- How to change the magnification — carefully rotating the optics until they feel a soft click.
- How to insert and secure the slides — basically how to tilt or swivel the clamps carefully.
- How to look into the eye piece
I love the fact that there’s two light sources so you can view both transparent slides as well as solid objects.
I have to say the weight is a little lighter than I’d have preferred — I find that when things are just heavy enough, it helps the child to handle them in a more controlled motion. I like when things are “goldilocks” weight — not too light, not too heavy, but just the right weight. And there’s no exactness to the weight, of course, as it depends on each individual item as well as the child.
The included prepared slides are wonderful, however I am glad I ordered the extra prepared slides. I like how they categorize the specimens — it gives the boys a framework of where and what potential specimens they might collect.