Microscopes is a really cool tool to view the small in this world, the microcosm. You can not only view insects, bacteria and viruses you can also view all kinds of different things you can find in nature, like plants, fruits, sticks, grass, sand, hair, rocks and even your couch, but you also have to cut a small piece out first though so might not be in your best interest. But either way you decide, you can view pretty much anything you can find.
It’s a great time to get a microscope for students who want to put a little extra work into their essays. You can really get some nice pictures of a flies eye or a bacteria.
History – The first Microscope
The history is, not surprisingly, complicated. Things invented centuries ago has all sorts of different claims on who did what and who invented what. This is my interpretation.
Microscope, the word itself, means “too small to see” which comes from ancient Greek. The idea is of course to magnify objects to see things that the naked eye can not see. In the late 16th-century, several lens makers from the Netherlands perfected lenses which later became known as “Microscope”.
Since it was so many years ago, there have been several claims on who invented the first compound microscope but it is commonly agreed that the first device that was called a Microscope was the Compound Microscope which was built by Galileo Galilei. Before him, some claims go back to the year 1590, his name was Zacharias Janssen and the claim he invented it came from his son.
I cannot say for certain who invented the first Microscope because the rivalry between several different lens makers made it common for lies to be spread. It is commonly cited that Galileo is the inventor, but it is uncertain.
Some 70 years later, in 1660-70, the microscope was first used to study biology in Italy, Britain and the Netherlands. They first inspected the lungs, and later re-discovered red blood cells. In 1676, a guy by the name of van Leeuwenhoek announced the discovery of micro-organisms.
My interpretation of this interesting history is that several inventors and lensmakers perfected the lenses at or around the same time which might be the cause for the confusion on who actually invented it.
Why you want a Microscope
There are several different reasons why you would want a microscope, some might be for a scientific study or to simply satisfy your curiosity. Personally, I would buy a microscope just to satisfy my curiosity and the fact that viewing the microcosm world is simply stunning.
You can also use a microscope as an educational tool to teach children about the natural world they live in, it’s a fun way to start teaching your kid biology at home, both as a homeschooling tool and for parents just wanting a cool hobby for their kids while simultaneously teaching them something new every day. And you don’t need to be a wiz in biology to do this, after all, there’s always Mrs Google. Just look what I found by google-ing just a few words…
The pictures you see above is an image from an electron microscope that depicts the bacterium Escherichia Coli or E. Coli for short(left) and a Rust Mite(right)
It looks absolutely unreal, and you can do this with literally anything. You won’t get this type of detail with a plastic microscope for 10 pounds so don’t get your hopes up for this kind of images if you buy the cheapest one. But trust me, you will still be blown away using any high-powered microscope and even a low powered one to view bugs. I recommend a budget of at least 50 pounds and buying a metal microscope, NOT plastic.
Why children need a Microscope
Microscopes are not only a tool scientists use to study bacteria, but it can also be used as an educational tool to teach kids about small animals using the stereo/dissecting microscope (i will talk about microscope types later) for smaller bugs like a fly or a mosquito, how they move, what their eyes look like and how their wings fly.
Using a more high-powered microscope, you can teach children about germs and the importance of washing your hands by showing them what we can’t see with our naked eye. Especially in times like these, it is really important. Note: You can also do this with an at-home experiment called “repel glitter with soap experiment” Click Here to read more about it.
Two types of Microscopes
Also known as a stereo or dissecting microscope. This type is commonly used to get a close look at small insects and it is even used in surgery. So yeah, the microscope is much more important than we think. You can use this kind to not only view insects but also things like coins, small items such as postage stamps, text or images, you can get a close-up view of your fingers/nails and fabrics.
Just from the thing I listed you can get a good idea of what a low power microscope is used for. It is not typically what people are interested in but nonetheless, it is a great tool, perfect for teaching kids about small insects like flies and mosquitoes. You can get a really good look at their structure.
I recommend only purchasing a low power one for the purposes listed or something similar. You may think it’s a perfect start for children but it is not. low power and high power is used for very different purposes. You won’t see bacteria for example with this type. So a perfect start really depends on what you want to teach your kids or what they’re interested in.
This type is the most popular and most known type known as a biological or compound microscope. It is used for seeing the small world invisible to the naked eye, the real reason you want a microscope. You can see some really cool things like blood cells, bacteria and amoebas.
With this type you can achieve up to 1000x magnification, anything above is not worth it as it will produce bad images. You don’t need to start at 1000x, 400x is sufficient enough for all beginners and ages and perfect for an at-home educational environment.
So the difference between high and low power is clear, with low power you should focus on small things that you can see with your naked eye like bugs and for high power you want to focus on “invisible” things like blood cells.
What beginners should think of before making a purchase
As a starter, never buy those plastic cheap ones. They will only be a waste of money and time. You need a real metal microscope that will last for years to come. Look into the product you are buying by looking for things like “slides/samples included” and other support materials. This will make sure you get a good start and don’t start off with frustration which might turn you off from continuing using a microscope.
A list of things you should look for:
- Magnification (400x+)
- Built-in light source
- Slides and Support Material included?
- Type of material (is it plastic/metal?)
- High Power/Low Power
- Read Reviews
- Warranty included?
When you have checked all the items in the list and made sure the reviews are great you can go ahead and look into purchasing your first microscope and for the best beginner experience, you should make sure everything in the list is included in your purchases.
If you are purchasing with the intent of using it as an educational tool for children you may want to look into buying a book about the small world, it would be a great addition when teaching your children about bacteria and other micro-creatures.
Please note that if you click the “Shop Now” button it will take you to amazon.co.uk, The link is an affiliate link and if you decide to make a purchase we (funsciencestuff.co.uk) will receive a small commission. Read more
Books for kids:
Microscopes for Beginners:
More from my Shop section:
Are Microscopes good for kids?
They are not only good for kids but they are a perfect educational tool to teach kids about microorganisms/germs. It’s a way for kids to really see what germs actually are and look like. We tell kids all the time to wash their hand because it is important to get rid of germs but they can’t really imagine what we are actually telling them because they can’t see these germs. If they could see the bacteria that live on their hands, then just maybe they’ll get better at washing their hands.
At what age can a kid use a Microscope?
I recommend at least 3 years and up. It depends on the child.
What should children look at under a Microscope?
Blood cells, bacteria, hair, skin, grass and anything really. It depends on the type of Microscope you buy, whether it’s high or low power.
Can a 3-year-old use a Microscope?
With my experience with 3-year-olds, they can use one, as long as there is adult supervision.
How do you introduce a Microscope for kids?
The most simple way to get your kids interested is to first teach them about microorganisms, using books, youtube videos, audiobooks. And then you can show them what they look like.
What is the best Microscope for students?
The best microscope for students is dependent on what you are studying but generally speaking id say it’s good to buy one with a wide variety of magnification options to fit most of your needs. Look for microscopes that come with carrying bags for safe travel.
What is the best affordable Microscope?
The most affordable ones come in all shapes and sizes and really good ones are not that expensive. But the most affordable ones I’ve seen have a max magnification of 400x, I’d recommend 1000x but 400x is good enough.
How much is a good quality Microscope?
You don’t need to pay more than £60-£120 for a good quality microscope. The best thing to do is to read reviews throughout, they will tell you if the tool is of good quality.
Thanks for reading my, hopefully, helpful beginners guide. Feel free to leave your thought by commenting below.