For Hamish's 4th birthday, I thought she needed a microscope. Actually there was some debate between a microscope or a telescope, but I eventually decided for the immediate future the microscope would be more interesting. We got this usb microscope, though there are many other potential options. Initially I was thinking a real backlit binocular microscope that would be able to view cells and such, but once I stumbled across these I immediately started to see the promise. With this microscope design, the adult can do the bulk of tinkering with focusing and finding an object of interest, and it's displayed in real time on a computer screen that anybody else in the room can watch and be fascinated. It has its own LED lighting, and it's just a small camera that you can move wherever you want, so you can easily press it up against your face, or a leaf on a tree, or whatever other object you want to see in microscopic detail. It has two zoom levels of 50x and 250x, and as you'll see, 250x is pretty cool.
Now I promise when I bought this I fully intended it as a present for Hamish, and I think she does think it's cool and will probably even be more interested in it as time goes on. But I can't help but think this thing is amazing and that most anyone who sees what it can do will want one. I am not yet getting paid to advertise... but I probably should be.
Okay, so what can it do?
Well, you can begin with looking at some pretty seemingly mundane objects, like salt
That is my computer screen. Those are individual pixels, red, green, and blue, in little pairs. super neat.
But you'll quickly turn the camera on yourself and check out your hair and beard (this is my beard):
But when Hamish considers objects to look at, she quickly wants to turn the microscope on the bugs. And the bugs is where it's at. Check some of this out:
Here is what a springtail looks like (little bitty bugs that show up in our house around the sink upstairs in the summer):