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5 Hobby Microscopes for Beginners

Whether you need a microscope for a class or simply to use for fun, you’ll need to make sure you invest in a model that will suit your needs. Microscopes for beginners can be plastic toys or they can be fully functional tools. Learning more about microscopes can help you choose the right model for your needs and make the most of your investment.

What Type of Microscope is Best for a Beginner?

There are two different types of microscopes to choose from; stereo and compound. The main difference between the two is the amount of magnification offered and the types of things the microscope can examine. Choose a microscope based on the things your child most wants to explore.

Stereo Microscopes: This type of microscope offers lower magnification, usually from 10-40x; it can be used to examine samples of all types. Pretty much anything that is interesting and will fit on the platform can be used. If your child wants to examine coins, feathers, rocks, toys and other items that are not prepared slides, a stereo microscope like the one below is a good choice.  Astereo microscope shows off items at up to 30 times their actual size, making it easy for curious kids to examine and learn.

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Compound Microscopes: A compound microscope works with much smaller samples and slides and is what most of us think of when we hear the word “microscope”. Choosing a compound microscope is essential if your child or teen wants to look at slides or very tiny items. Compound microscopes like the one below offer greater magnification and work with pre-made slides or slides you prepare yourself. Most compound microscopes offer magnification up to 1000x, and are ideal for a student taking a class in biology.

Digital Microscopes: Aside from determining the type of microscope you need, you should also consider how the microscope will be used. Do you want to be able to see the results on a screen or save them to a tablet or device? Then a digital microscope like the one below may be best for you.

Stereo vs. Compound Microscopes for Beginners

As long as you get a quality microscope, both types are ideal for kids. The main difference is the amount of magnification and the types of items you can view. Choose the type of microscope based on what your child needs for school or the objects they most want to learn about.

Microscopes for Beginners – Choose a Quality Microscope for Best Results

Some kids microscopes are designed to be toys or novelty items; when you select on to use for science class or exploration, choose one that is designed with that purpose in mind. Toy microscopes may have a similar look but won’t be as user friendly or yield the best results. A few things to keep in mind when you choose a microscope for a beginner:

  • Avoid flimsy, lightweight plastic models; the scope should feel heavy for its size.
  • Any microscope branded with a character or theme is likely a toy and not going to yield good results. 
  • Adjustable dials and settings make it easy to get a good view of a variety of items.
  • A microscope for adults may be a better choice and value than one labeled “for kids”.
  • Look for magnification up to 1000x – any higher and you may not get the clarity you need to fully explore an item or slide.

Choosing a Microscope for a Beginner

Think about what you want to use the microscope for and what level of magnification you need before you go shopping.  Comparing both the actual microscope and any extras and additions it comes with can help you get the best possible value from your purchase. Thinking about both your current needs and how you may use the piece in the future will also help you choose the right microscope for you and your family. 

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