Product Type: Natural History Museum Novelty Toy
Newest Review: ... very blue and green. A small white area had a picture f the contents, which made it more appealing...............it did look rather nif... more
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Natural History Museum Pocket Microscope
Member Name: historywitch
Natural History Museum Pocket Microscope
Advantages: Cheap, fantastic clarity of image and zoom, sturdy, easy to use
Disadvantages: Some of the accessories are easy to lose
**What you get**
You get a small handheld microscope with a small detachable black stand which slips on the bottom. This means that you can hold the microscope over the object that you want to examine or slip a smaller object under the lens on a slide and study it at your leisure. The microscope has a 20-40x zoom and you can adjust it easily using the large wheel at the top of the microscope. At the other end of the microscope is a little black button - push it and a powerful little light comes on which illuminates the specimen on the slide. It is so powerful that on occasion during powercuts it becomes a handy little torch. For the same reason it is confiscated at bedtime!
Also included are two of the little specimen slides (the rectangular pieces of Perspex which you slide under the microscope for the non-scientists) and two things called cover slips, which are little extra pieces of plastic. If you have a delicate thing on the slide or liquid then you put a cover slip over the top to hold it in place. I'm afraid these cover slips were almost instantly lost so I can't account for how useful the ones that came with the microscope were! The microscope light is powered with a little watch type battery which comes with the microscope-no installation required, you simply remove the piece of plastic inside and you are ready to go.
**How much does it cost**
I got mine for £4.99 from Amazon, but it seems that they are now only available from Marketplace at a vastly inflated price (£20!). The Natural History Museum website has them for £8 or you can try Play.com at £11.21. Lots of other shops have them for a whole slew of prices so its worth shopping around to get the best price on this one.
A mature 4 year old would probably be the youngest I think, my daughter is quite sensible but I don't think she would have been ready for it before then. Of course you may have a little prodigy on your hands, in which case just ignore me.
I don't think that there is an upper age limit. I like using it, my mum has been known to use it, it doesn't look like a children's microscope so I wouldn't be ashamed to take it out and about on my own.
This has been one of the most used toys I have bought my daughter. When she first opened it, she went around our lounge and examined everything from the wood grain on the fireplace surround to the fabric of my skirt to her own skin. It is incredibly easy to use, just look through the lens and twist the wheel to focus, something a five year old can do without any problems at all. Minute adjustments are very easy to make and the picture/zoom is astonishing. The image is crystal clear and you can pick out minute little details on insects, hairs and fibres. It has a quality of image that I would expect from a £50-£100 microscope and my scientist husband was also impressed by its clarity.
But it has an advantage over the traditional fixed microscope in that it can be taken off its stand and held against something, as well as being on a stand. And astonishingly it gives the same quality of image when used like this as it does when its upright on its stand. This extra ability makes it so much more appealing and interesting to children, you can look at things right there and then without having to fiddle with a slide, you can look at the underside of something whilst lying on your back underneath it and you can idly examine body parts when you are bored (none of these are limited to children only of course!)
The microscope is very sturdy, its been slung in a handbag, dropped repeatedly, carried round woods and beaches, left in the garden overnight by accident and generally treated to over a year of everything my daughter and son could throw at it. Yet it still works as well as it did when we first got it out of its box and frankly I am astonished. I was expecting for the price to get more of a toy really than an actual microscope, never mind one of this quality and clarity of image. It does have lots of small bits to potentially lose and the box is not very well designed to store them, but I think that this is an absolutely superb bit of kit and one I can heartily recommend.