How do you know what kind of microscope or telescope to get if you don’t know how to work it? They’re usually really expensive, so how can you be sure not to get ripped off?
Ask a real scientist who uses them both in the field and also when they teach kids!
A lot out there on the market is junk, and what’s left is usually too hard and frustrating for kids to learn on. And that’s the stuff most folks buy, because they either don’t know how to tell a good instrument from junk or they can’t afford a good instrument. Both of these usually frustrate the kids to the point of turning them off from science completely, the exact opposite of what well-meaning parents are trying to do.
So – let me show you what I use when I teach kids. Here are my personal favorites that I use when I do science:
If you just want something quick and cheap, get a pocket microscope. It’s only good for a quick peek at something while you’re walking in nature.
For a good, solid compound microscope, look for one with a mechanical stage and three lenses on a rotating piece (4X, 10X and 40X) and a 10X at the eyepiece (the place you put your eye up to). Get one with a mirror (no electrical cord) if you plan to use it primarily outdoors in nature. I got my microscope here, but there are lots of places that will make good ones and expect to spend between $150-$250. Anything cheaper won’t last (don’t buy from Walmart or Costco, and don’t buy it if it’s made of plastic).
You’ll also need slides, coverslips, stain (like iodine), tweezers, and a medicine dropper. There are also lens adapters so you can turn yours into a digital microscope using your cell phone and this special mount.
Two books are good to go with your microscope – I like these because kids can use them on their own.
The kind of telescope most people want to get is not the one I’d get for my kids because it’s hard to use than a Dobsonian, but since it’s cheap (less than $150) and up on skinny legs (it LOOKS like the telescope in most people’s minds) most people want one like this.
Here’s the one I’d get for my kids. But… what’s BETTER than a Telescope? A nice pair of good BINOCULARS! Telescopes are useless if you don’t know where to point them, so invest in a set of good binoculars like these from Celestron and a good star gazing app.
Here are a few resources for star gazing that I really enjoy using with kids:
- Touring the Universe through Binoculars
- Planisphere (make sure you get the right latitude for where you live)
I hope this has been helpful!
If you want your kids to not only learn how to use these types of scientific instruments, but also really understand their world around them and make more projects that use things like this, and if you found this helpful and you find yourself thinking, “Hey, you know, I want this person to teach my kids science for me, and to create my curriculum lessons for me…” then we can do just that. Go here.
When you get there, you’ll see a video that shows you the science curriculum that I developed and teach.
If you like what you see on that website, just fill in the form below the video and your kids can get started today doing real hands-on science with everyday materials.
Thanks for watching!
Homeschool Science Curriculum
P.S. By the way, if you know anybody that might find this content useful or helpful, please share it! Thanks so much!!
P.P.S. If you’re an e-Science member, a more in-depth article is here.