High school is when many of us had our first experience with a microscope. For a few of us, it may be a little younger, perhaps in junior high school. But either way, almost universally, the first microscope we are required to use in our standardized education system is a compound microscope. Why is this the case? I’m really not sure. I assume that a high school microscope lab or session is a pretty important first step for studying biology, which usually happens at the high school level. I also assume that a compound microscope is the most common kind that schools have access too. But, they’re just assumptions of mine. If you happen to know, leave me a comment so I can add it here!
Moving on, AmScope’s M500 is what I picture in my mind when I think of a high school microscope. It is a basic student high school microscope, meaning it has a magnification range of 40x – 1000x, built in light source, and both coarse and fine focusing. I would venture as far as to say most people probably picture the M500 in their heads when thinking of the microscope they used in high school–they just don’t know it yet!
AmScope High School Microscope Review – Model “M500“
First off, let’s talk about the light source. For most parents, they probably were still using mirrors when they used a high school microscope in their labs. Mirrors are highly frustrating to students, and is probably what used to turn a lot of people off to the sciences. Now, it’s far more common to see high school microscope units having actual lights built into them. No longer does a lab become a field trip outside, so the class can stay focused on learning instead of fiddling with the perfect angle between the microscope and the sun just to get light through the sample.
The M500 high school microscope has a tungsten light source included in the base. With a flip of a switch (and a little plug into the wall electricity magic), you have light! The great part about tungsten is that it is very easy to replace the bulb when it burns out (because it will in due time), and easily available at just about any hardware store. Although AmScope isn’t going anywhere, in the event that 20 years down the line they do, you’ll still be able to pick up a bulb from a local Ace Hardware or Home Depot, and you’ll be up and running again.
The downside of tungsten lighting is that over time, if left on, it does generate heat. So samples can dry up if your students aren’t picking it up quickly (so they’ll have to make a new slide unless using preserved and prepared slides), or students lacking a bit of common sense might touch the light source and feel some discomfort due to the heat. So be sure to give a small precaution to your class (or your student) about not burning themselves by touching a hot light.
The framework for the M500 is all metal, so it will last through the ages provided it is treated with care. Dropping the microscope still isn’t good because it’s not the frame you have to worry about–it’s the fine glass elements inside this precision high school microscope that can become misaligned or shatter, rendering the high school microscope useless.
This AmScope high school microscope comes with 4 objectives–a 4x, a 10x, a 40x, and a 100x. Now, most high school microscope units come with only 3–the 4x, 10x, and 40x. This is because the 100x is an oil immersion lens, so it’s a bit more technical than the first time microscope user in their teenage years can handle without making a mess. But, if you have an ambitious class (or are an ambitious teacher/parent), then you can read up all about how to use the 100x objective and proper immersion oil technique at my Microscope 101: Oil Immersion Lesson page!
The other objectives are simple to use. Turn the light on, and put the sample on the stage. Turn it to the 4x (the shortest one), and use the focusing knobs to adjust until you see the sample in focus. Turn to the 10x, and refocus. Repeat for the 40x objective. That’s all! Pretty neat, and very simple for a learning environment. First time users will have no trouble with this high school microscope at all.
The M500 is expandable with a few accessories, such as a mechanical stage (model MS100) for moving the slide around without touching it by hand. A mechanical stage also grants great precision with movement, as hands can be clumsy, making it difficult to scan through a slide slowly. There’s also additional eyepieces to extend the magnification higher up–up to 2500x if you get 25x eyepieces (it comes with 10x out of the box), but this is empty magnification, so your image quality will degrade as you magnify above 1000x.
Finally, there’s also the ability to use USB microscope cameras with this high school level microscope from AmScope. The eyepiece ocular tube is 23mm in size, which is standard for a great deal of USB microscope cameras on the market. These are great for sharing findings with the class that can’t be found in the span of a class period, or for students trying to display their results on a project, or even a science fair (if you need unique project ideas to win your school’s science fair, check out my Science Fair Project Ideas (With Microscopes) post)! Such an example of a cost effective and compatible USB microscope camera would be this item here: MU130
All in all, you can’t go wrong with a microscope that functions and appears exactly as the stereotype of a microscope in the eyes of the general populace. Reliable, cost effective, expandable, and fully functional–the M500 AmScope high school microscope.
For more information, images, or reviews, head on over to its listing here: M500
Any questions, comments, or concerns? You know what to do folks–leave me a comment or send me a message! Have a great week!