What to get for a microscope?

Scott Coutts scott.coutts at med.monash.edu.au
Sat Jun 7 01:25:00 EST 2003

Harry wrote:
> Hi,
> My youngest son is asking for a microscope to play with and we went to Zanny
> Branny (a toy type store) to look for one.  They are exactly like toy.
> I have three kids--oldest one is going to High school taking Biology next
> semester. Second one maybe will soon find it (microsope) useful.
> What should I get at what quality and approximate $ in US?

Well, judging from previous replies to posts here, I think a lot of 
people will say "dont get one"... but I think it's a great idea, 
especially to get kids interested in science and biology in particular.

> Though I am a science major guy, I am always frustrated with my very limited
> knowledge toward biology.  My six years old son finally lighted up the hope
> of heading to bioscience field.  I am excited and I don't want to buy him a
> junk.

A good quality microscope, even second hand, is going to cost you a 
reasonable amount of money. But it will last for as long as you need it 
(and longer) and if it can go through 3 kids, then maybe the investment 
would be worth it (: Note that I specified 'good quality'. By this, I 
mean *not* a 'toy' or 'hobby' microscope that you're going to find in a 
toy shop etc. You can buy second-hand research/professional microscopes 
for as much as you're willing to pay! Olympus scopes are excellent 
quality and relatively cheap. You can get a binocular biological lab 
microscope second hand for around $500.

> I found the traditional one is about the same design as 30 years ago.  There
> is one with an USB port to see the image on computer screen.  Should I
> consider to get him an traditional optical microscope or the new USB design?

Well, I think either would be good. Lots of microscopes have cameras 
attached these days, but it doesnt hurt to learn how to look down the 
eyepiece either. What brand is that USB one? One benefit, of course, is 
that you'll be able to keep pictures on the computer of what you see.

How much are you expecting to pay? What's your budget? Where abouts are 
you located? This place has a lot of scopes for sale, in all different 
price ranges (except really cheap-o stuff):


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