The prices for microscopes aimed at elementary and middle-school aged students often range from $20 to $40. However, consumers should be wary of buying cheap products. If the optics on a microscope are low-quality, children may lose interest quickly. But a good quality product doesn't have to cost a fortune either. There are some great microscopes that range from $60 to $120. AmScope is one brand that has some quality student microscopes in this price range.
AmScope has a cheap introductory microscope called the AmScope-Kids M30-ABS-KT. The kit consists of LED and mirror illumination, 6 magnifications from 120x - 1200x, and a metal frame and base. This is a 48 piece accessory set and case. The thing that's great about this particular microscope is that everything comes in a case, which helps to keep all the pieces together. Many expensive sets don't come with cases. But to get higher quality, it's better to spend more.
The AmScope M162C-2L-PB10 costs twice as much as the M30-ABS-KT. This is the one I have and the quality of the optics at 40x, 100x, and 250x, is very high. And this magnification is what we mainly use. Even at 400x, things we've placed under the microscope become harder to see. But below 400x magnification, the quality has been amazing. It was higher than I expected for the price I paid. It's a great starter microscope for homeschooling or for families who want to instill a love of science in their children.
According to the manufacturer, it was awarded the Best Student Microscope:
"This versatile, dual-light microscope purposes as both a prime-powered and low-powered microscope for viewing larger objects, such as leaves and bugs and incredibly prime-detail viewing of ultra-small, translucent specimens like cells, and even the vascular systems of skinny leaves. And for more-opaque objects, like stamps, sand, or insects, the higher gentle supplies mirrored illumination."
- Optical glass monocular microscope with top & bottom LED lights
- 40X-1000X Five wide-field magnifications
- Sturdy metal frame with coaxial coarse & fine focusing
- Single Lens Condenser and 6-Hole Disc Diaphragm
This is a dual light microscope that allows "for both the viewing of opaque objects lit from above and the viewing of translucent specimens lit from below."
There are a couple of purchasing options available for the M162C.
- The microscope with five blank and five prepared slides.
- The AmScope Student Microscope kit which comes with a book called The World of the Microscope and a slide preparation kit to make your own slides.
This is a full list of items that come with the kit:
- 1 Monocular Microscope with Three Objectives and Top & Bottom Lights
- 1 Widefield 10X Eyepiece
- 1 Widefield 25X Eyepiece
- 1 Dust Cover
- 1 User's Manual
- 2 Clips
- 1 AC Power Adapter
- 3 AA Batteries
Slide Prep includes:
- 1 10pc Slide Kit with 5 Specimen Slides and 5 Blank Slides
- 1 5pc Specimen Slide Kit
- 1 5pc Blank Slide Kit
- 1 50pc Pack of Blank Slides
- 1 100pc Pack of Cover Slips
- 1 Bottle of Eosin
- 1 Bottle of Methylene Blue
- 1 Tweezers
- 1 Swab
- 1 Set of ID Stickers
- 1 Petri Dish
- 1 Pick
- 1 Stirring Rod
- 1 Vial
- 1 Set of Lens Tissues
- 1 Book: The World of the Microscope
I bought the full kit because the preparation kit alone costs $20 and the book is $12. So this is a better deal than getting everything separately. The book The World of the Microscope has instructions on how to make slides. However, slides aren't always necessary. Hair, fibers, plant material, coins, and more can be viewed without the use of slides. While this microscope doesn't come with a storage container, it does have a cover. It's important to keep all the lenses and the microscope clean.
While you can prepare your own slide, pre-made slides are also available for purchase. Here's a mouthful but the AMSCOPE-KIDS 48pcs Kids Plastic Prepared Microscope Slides of Animals Insects Plants Flowers Sample Specimens for Stereo Microscopes is a good deal at about $17.50. The AmScope PS25 Prepared Microscope Slide Set for Basic Biological Science Education, 25 Slides, Includes Fitted Wooden Case makes a great gift because all the slides come in a wooden box, which is a great way to safely store everything. The twenty-five prepared slides include plants, insects, and animal tissues. The samples are preserved in cedarwood oil and sealed with a coverslip to preserve specimens and prevent contamination. It includes honeybee worker leg-composite, human blood (smear), pumpkin stem (cross-section), rabbit spinal cord (cross section), and many more. Labeling provides specimen identification.
The AmScope M150C-PS25 is about $90. It's the next step up from the M162C. If you want a microscope that you can connect to a computer or laptop, check out the AmScope M160C-2L-PB10-E2, which costs about $140.
To get a quality microscope without breaking the bank, the M162C is an excellent choice. It's easy to use and the quality of the optics up to 250x is very high. It's simple enough, once you know what to do, that a nine or 10-year-old child could be taught how to use it. The full kit is a great choice if you want to make your own slides. If you want something similar to the M162C but with higher quality, the M150C-PS25 costs just a little more than the full M162C student kit.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2017 LT Wright
LT Wright (author) from California on April 23, 2017:
For elementary and middle schoolers definitely. For high schoolers, I'd spend a lot more.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on April 23, 2017:
This looks great, and good for any budding doctors or scientists!