To continue on our beginner microscope information week, let’s take a look at a package designed for young audiences to get their first look into the world of microscopy–an AmScope microscope.
AmScope has their lowest cost, entry level microscope option setup as an all inclusive package, and one of their only whole packages that includes tools and samples with the microscope. The M30-ABS-KT2-W is a 51 piece beginner’s microscope all in one kit, including an LED lit compound microscope with 300x, 600x, and 1200x settings.
AmScope Toy Microscope Review “M30-ABS-KT2-W”
I’d recommend this set for an age group of 5-12 years of age, as the tools themselves are all plastic (to avoid potential for injury when unsupervised, although supervision is recommended at all times), but are still sharp enough to get the job done. Tools included are a specimen slicer, a scalpel (not plastic, so be careful with this one), plastic tweezers, a needle, a spatula, a stirring rod, and a few containers for different media, such as a petri dish, graduated cylinder, and shrimp hatchery. These tools essentially give your young scientist their own private lab for slide preparation, beyond the scope of what most student packages from AmScope toy microscope kits offer.
The AmScope toy microscope itself comes in a sturdy ABS plastic case that fits all components in their own slot, so it’s easy to tell when something is missing, and even easier for your child or grandchild to carry it between locations, if they are allowed to travel with the unit.
The biggest gripe I’ve seen and experienced with this AmScope toy microscope unit though is that there is a large variety in build qualities within this single model number. The unit I received had no problems, but others have reported difficulty focusing on the included samples. The M30-ABS-KT2-W is advertised as metal framed, which it does have the arm of the unit made of metal, however the majority of it is indeed plastic, as are the lenses in the microscope. Glass is of higher quality, but at this low price point, lesser materials had to be used in its construction, which is understandable.
The difficult part in making a quality judgment based on the information I see scattered online is that it might not be just bad quality of the unit, but it could also be user overexpectation or user error. A starter AmScope toy microscope like this tends to attract the less experienced audience, so it’s possible that the users are simply moving the focusing knob too quickly (as ther is coarse focusing only on this AmScope toy microscope), or are mounting the slides incorrectly (such as mashing a sample between two slides, which won’t work). Personally, I had no problems viewing the included samples and hatching the shrimp to see those as well, so with patience and practice, you should be able to as well.
The other downside is that the eyepiece on this AmScope toy microscope cannot be removed or interchanged, so the 300x, 600x, and 1200x powers are the only ones this unit is capable of. This also means there is no way to attach a camera to my knowledge, or use any of the microscope cameras on the market.
My final complaint, that really isn’t a complaint but simply a design function, is that the AmScope toy microscope unit doesn’t have a true condenser on the bottom of the stage. The light simply shines up through a disc diaphragm, which you can use to adjust the hole size that the light travels through (thus, adjusting the amount of light your sample receives). It’s a needed function, but proper condensers tend to have more flexibility since they are adjustable, and offer better focused light. It’s still a good unit, just could be much better (although at this price point, I imagine it was a design decision to keep it to a disc diaphragm).
Overall, this unit makes a great gift, especially for birthdays or holiday gifts, but for anyone seriously looking to get into microscopy, I’d recommend going with something a little more professional than this microscope, which I’d categorize as a high quality toy microscope.
My nephew loves the device, and had a bit of a scare when viewing an ant head (he wasn’t prepared for the level of detail he saw when it twitched while in focus), but it did nothing but further his academic interest in the microscopic world around us.
For more information on picking up this package, check it out here on Amazon: M30-ABS-KT2-W