A Durable, Enjoyable, and (Gasp!) Affordable Microscope for Kids

SmartLab Toys Indoor-Outdoor Microscope. Photo: Kelly Knox
SmartLab Toys Indoor-Outdoor Microscope. Photo: Kelly Knox

My daughter has been fascinated by peering into microscopes since she was in preschool, but with most selling for $50+, we’ve never had the extra funds to invest in one to have at home. So when I heard about the $20 microscope from SmartLab Toys that’s built to survive wear and tear both indoors and outdoors, I had to give it a try.

While the microscope doesn’t seem much more powerful than a magnifying glass, it’s more than enough to get her excited about discovering a whole new world we can’t see until we look through the lens.

Photo: Kelly Knox
Photo: Kelly Knox

The Indoor-Outdoor Microscope from SmartLab Toys magnifies at 40 times normal size. While it isn’t strong enough to see individual cells, it certainly is enough to astonish and delight little scientists seeing things like insect legs or a blade of grass up close for the first time. In fact, the microscope comes with four prepared slides, so the second you open the box, your kids can dive right in.

Blank slides and specimen containers are also included, so kids can run around the house or into the backyard to find anything their inquisitive hearts desire.

Photo: Kelly Knox
Setting up a blade of grass on a blank side. Photo: Kelly Knox

The microscope is made of plastic, which makes it more durable and easy to carry than a heavy glass and metal microscope—in fact, it’s so portable that we took the entire kit on vacation out of state. The microscope can be removed easily from the stand and used by itself to look at tree bark, the sidewalk, large rocks, and more.

The kit also comes with a colorful book, Up Close and Personal by Shar Levine, that includes suggestions for activities while inspiring genuine enthusiasm about science. My kindergartener was more than amused by looking at toilet paper up close, just one of many fun suggestions in the companion book.

Toilet paper up close. Photo: Kelly Knox
Toilet paper up close. Photo: Kelly Knox

Not only does my six-year-old enjoy finding new things to examine in the microscope, the fun is contagious; friends and grownups get into the hunt with just as much excitement. The recommended age is 8 and up, but all elementary-age kids can use the microscope with a grownup’s help.

The microscope comes with three LR-44 button cell batteries. When the time comes for you to switch them out, you can easily find affordable replacements on Amazon.com. It’s worth noting that the first microscope we received burnt out within minutes, presumably due to a faulty bulb as switching the batteries had no effect, but the replacement item has lasted for multiple uses.

SmartLab Toys is offering a special deal just for GeekMom readers. You can order the Indoor-Outdoor Microscope on the SmartLab Toys web site, and use the discount code SPRING15 for 25% off through 4/30/15! With such a fantastic deal on a STEM toy, it’s definitely worth giving it a try.

GeekMom received a promotional item for review purposes. 

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Kelly Knox is a freelance writer in Seattle, WA, where she contributes to local parenting magazines. She also writes for StarWars.com, Geek & Sundry, and more. You can find crafts and art projects for geeky families at her blog The St{art} Button.