Finding microscopes for elementary students is not an easy task. In this article, we have decided to supply you with all the info that you need in order to find microscopes that can be used in schools. So, keep reading and see what you need to know before placing any orders!
Simple vs. compound models
Currently, the market is filled with two types of microscopes: simple and compound ones. A simple model has a single lens, while a compound one comes provided with both an eyepiece and an objective.
According to the specialists, you should always select compound microscopes for school use because the simple units are prone to show too much image aberration. As a result, the students will not be able to have a good view of the specimen that is being examined, and, thus, they are prone to lose their interest pretty quickly.
High vs. low power
Another decision that you have to make is between high-power and low-power models. Normally, schools often select high-power units when it comes to equipping their labs. These options are preferred because they have a generous magnification range.
However, the dissecting or stereo microscopes that fall into the low power category of microscopes should also be considered. They are very practical during lessons because they can increase the size of the specimen that is being analyzed. These models can be used when looking at plants or bugs during classes.
While low-power microscopes are suitable for elementary school, it is widely recommended that high school laboratories are provided with high-quality devices.
If you are teaching in a lab that is equipped with laptops or computers, digital microscopes should also be taken into consideration. These units are very practical because they allow the students who are using them to take photographs of the specimens being analyzed.
Because the product that you end up with will be used by many students throughout the years, it is vital that you select one that is made of high-quality materials. From this point of view, it is recommended that you get a microscope that features a metal case.
Plus, you should also check out the quality of the optics that the unit includes. Specialists argue that one should avoid purchasing a microscope that comes fitted with optics made of plastic, as they are prone to break easily.
Moreover, all the components made of plastic that a product of this kind features can be affected by heat and even destroyed.
A key factor that enables a microscope user to take a good look at the specimen that he/she is analyzing is the presence of a light source. Not all kinds of microscopes include light sources. However, there are models that come fitted with not just one, but two light bulbs so that sufficient light is supplied at all times.
The kind of bulbs that are used for illumination also vary from one model to another. For instance, halogen bulbs are not very popular now because there have been numerous studies that have shown that they can affect the user’s health.
As an alternative, there are tungsten and fluorescent bulbs that you can try. Yet, they are rather expensive. Because of this, many argue that LED light sources are the best choice. What is more, the units that include LED lights are portable because the lighting system runs on batteries.
Weight and size
Because in a classroom you will most probably have to move the microscope around quite often, it is also recommended that you select a unit that is not particularly heavy. Also, it should have a design that makes it easy to be picked up and carried by a single person.
When it comes to size, it should be mentioned that an appropriate unit has to fit in the storage space that is available. It should also not feature parts that are movable or that can come off easily.
Safety and maintenance
If in the classroom where you are teaching there are consistent changes in temperature and humidity, it is also advisable that you acquire a unit that has been coated with a special substance that prevents bacteria from spreading. Moreover, keep in mind that there are products that have been tested for mold growth.
Maintenance-wise, the microscope that you select has to be easy to service. In other words, the unit should be easy to clean and maintain. On-site service is another feature that you should look for in a product of this type.
Usability and image quality
For a microscope to be suitable for classroom use, the unit should be simple to use. That is, it should only require minimal adjustments in order for the students to see something. This way, they will remain engaged and eager to hear what the teacher has to say.
With this in mind, it might also help to label all the parts of the unit so that the students know what parts to move when instructed to do so. The fewer removable parts a microscope has, the easier it is for the students to utilize it.
Optical performance is another important aspect that you should not ignore. A microscope that produces high-quality images that have a good resolution and good contrast is better than one that underperforms in this regard.
Because manufacturers are trying to supply all interested buyers with suitable products, there are also plenty of accessories that you can get depending on the requirements of the subject that one teaches. For example, for a geology class, you can buy certain contrast filters or kits such as polarization.
Course level and budget
Another vital aspect that you should consider is the course level. If you need a microscope that can be used when teaching high schoolers, you do not have to select one that has the same capabilities as one that is meant to be used for advanced pathology courses.
To make the process of finding a microscope as easy as possible, some sellers have also prepared classifications of the products that they distribute, in accordance with the needs of the students.
The budget that you have available is also an important factor that should not be neglected. If you have a strict budget, it is best that you analyze the available models and that you select the one that suits the needs of the students best.
Although it might sound tempting for those that are short on money, settling for a second-hand unit should not be considered. This is not advisable because, if you do not have the experience needed to understand whether or not a microscope is functional, there is a high chance that you will end up with a model that does not perform as expected.
You should also not compromise and get a microscope that cannot supply users with high-quality images. If the product that you want to get is over your budgetary possibilities, it is better to wait and save some more money in order to get it.
What is more, before you make a decision, we recommend that you go online and that you read the reviews that a certain item has received from both specialists and current owners. This will help you select a microscope that can cater to your needs perfectly.