Welcome to my new blog sponsor Explorental!
How are you all doing with getting back into the groove with your homeschool? This year I have two students doing biology- my 10th grader is using cK-12 which is an open source textbook and my 8th grader is doing a project based approach to biology with her Snake Study. Each provides a great opportunity for observing objects under a microscope. I thought I’d share some advice, straight from this biology teacher, on how to have a good experience with a digital microscope.
Why Choose A Digital Microscope for Your Homeschool
- Easier to use with more than one child because the image comes upon a monitor- rather than having to see the object only through the lens one at a time.
- Allows you to take still photos of the object on the stage- better than a drawing to remember the image. You can print them and put them right into your notebook.
- Record live video of critters moving in a petri dish or a slide- so you can observe what was moving in your pond water long after the moment has gone by
- The magnifier can be pulled out of the base to observe objects too large to fit on the stage– “scope on a rope” is a lot of fun for kids!
- Magnifies at low and high power like a light microscope- 10x, 60x, up to 200x
- Adjusting the intensity of the light is an option– which is not always present on an affordable light microscope for home use.
- No worries about driving an objective lens through the slide on high power- You don’t get the feel of working through an ocular lens (the tube/lens at the top of a microscope), but it is safer when someone gets careless.
Tips for Success While Using a Microscope
- Start on the lowest magnification (10x) and practice there on seeing as much of an object as you can at once.
- Bring the object into the clearest focus using the knobs on the side of the microscope.
- Once you have various objects in focus all the time, then work on not moving the stage and turning to the next level of magnification– 60x. Try focusing the image again.
- Draw objects as you see them. Remember to record the magnification. If your microscope allows you to capture a picture, try that too!
- Being very careful not to move the object on the stage as you do so, move the magnification to 200x. Any movement at all may result in not seeing the object highly magnified.
- The trick with seeing on the highest power is making sure as much of the object as possible is seen at the lowest magnification.
- Remember that as you increase the magnification, your field of vision gets smaller. So, as you can see closer, you are seeing a smaller section of the object. This can be frustrating for new users so practicing the skill of seeing as much of the object as possible first is important. You don’t want to be staring at a blank view searching for what you know is there.
- Try viewing many different materials.
- Have fun!
Yesterday I let my kids choose what they’d view under the microscope and we were disappointed to find that R13’s first snake skin has gone missing! She has been dutifully caring for her snake since June (he’s currently brumating in our basement) and we were hoping to get a close look at his first shed.
Instead, the kids picked things they wanted to see close up and our favorite of the day was a sheet of unbaked and baked Shrinky Dinks. It was fun to see how the polymers appeared different depending on whether the sheet had been in the oven or not. Do you know the difference? I won’t spoil the surprise!
What to Do If You Don’t Have a Microscope
Some of you may be thinking it would be wonderful to have your kids use a microscope, but you don’t have one at home and are not in the market for one. Perhaps there are not enough available resources for one or you know it won’t get used enough to warrant the investment.
I’m excited to introduce to you Explorental! This company specializes in renting out equipment to homeschoolers (and anyone) so you can experience technology, gadgets, and other expensive resources without making a huge financial commitment.
They do rent a digital microscope, though not the same model as we have, along with a lot of other intriguing items. You’ll find categories of items they rent along with the two week rental fee. The digital microscope is a two week rental for $31.99. They will ship it to you and you can immerse yourselves in a great science study for two weeks before shipping it back.
I love Explorental’s commitment to getting expensive science and math resources into the hands of families for a nominal cost. Click over to see what other fun equipment you can try out.by