Adventures in Science: The Celestron Kids Microscope With Smartphone Adapter

Education Gadgets Reviews

You probably know them best as the maker of fine telescopes, but Celestron makes other optical devices, including binoculars and microscopes. Recently, they introduced the Kids Microscope With Smartphone Adapter to their lineup. Let’s see how it stacks up.

What Is the Celestron Kids Microscope With Smartphone Adapter?

The Celestron Kids Microscope With Smartphone Adapter is a 50x-200x magnification compound microscope with a detachable head and a smartphone adapter. Magnifications of up to 400x can be reached with a 2x optical zoom dial. It retails for $49.99 and is available to order directly from Celestron.

The compact packaging for the microscope. Image by Paul Benson.

Specifications

Magnification: 50x (zoom: 100x)
100x (zoom: 200x)
200x (zoom: 400x)
Objective Lens Size: 5mm
Microscope Field of View: (50x) 2.3mm; with zoom 1.2mm
(100x) 1.2mm; with zoom 0.6mm
(200x) 0.56mm; with zoom 0.28mm
Exit Pupil Diameter : Ø 0.5mm – 0.25mm (50x)
Ø 0.37mm – 0.18mm (100x)
Ø 0.24mm – 0.12mm (200x)
Eye Relief: 7.4mm – 8.4mm (50x)
7.1mm – 8.3mm (100x)
Focusing System: Ring
Zoom: 2x
Illumination: LED
Power Source: 3 x AA (not included)

Unboxing the Celestron Kids Microscope With Smartphone Adapter

What you’ll find inside the box. Image by Paul Benson.

Opening up the box, you’ll find a vacuform tray holding the microscope and accessories, with a quickstart guide tucked in underneath. Here’s everything you get:

Microscope and accessories. Image by Paul Benson.

Along with the microscope, you also get a smartphone adapter, plastic tweezers, a dropper, 6 blank specimen slide covers, 3 blank slides, and 1 prepared slide with a cotton swatch.

To get the microscope ready to use, you simply insert 3 AAA batteries into the base, snap on the microscope head, and you’re ready to go.

Using the Celestron Kids Microscope With Smartphone Adapter

You have two options when using the microscope. You can use it as a traditional tabletop microscope or detach the head and go off exploring in nature.

Traditional Tabletop Use

Secure a prepared slide under the clips on the specimen stage. You can set the microscope to illuminate from below or above, depending on whether the specimen on the slide is transparent or not. Celestron conveniently included a prepared slide with a swatch of cotton on it, so that’s what I looked at first.

Prepared slide on the specimen stage, with illumination from below. Image by Paul Benson.

While you can look with the naked eye through the lens at the top of the microscope, it’s a very simple operation to attach the smartphone adapter. It slides into place securely, and you line up your smartphone’s camera with the hole in the adapter. As I wanted to be able to photograph what I was looking at for this review, I got my smartphone into position.

I started at the lowest magnification, rotating the bottom of the microscope head to the 50x lens. Once everything was in focus, I snapped a picture:

The cotton swatch at 50x. Image by Paul Benson.

Rotating the head, I changed to the 100x head and refocused the microscope:

Same slide, 100x magnification. Image by Paul Benson.

Finally, I switched to the 200x lens, and again took a look:

Cotton swatch at 200x magnification.

Additionally, there’s a 1-2x zoom dial on the microscope head that allows you to increase the magnification for each lens, effectively allowing you to get up to 400x magnification.

Handheld Microscope

The removable head of the microscope, showing the 2x zoom dial. Image by Paul Benson.

The head of the Kids Microscope easily snaps on and off the microscope arm, allowing you to take it out into nature to observe things up close. While technically you could use the smartphone adapter with the head detached(it attaches to the head, not the body of the microscope), Celestron cautions you to only use it with the head securely attached to the microscope arm. Otherwise, you could easily drop and break your phone.

To use the Handheld Microscope, you’ll manually move the microscope head closer or farther from the object you’re observing to bring it into focus.

Celestron Kids Microscope With Smartphone Adapter: The Verdict

Celestron also makes a more traditional Kids Basic Microscope Kit, which is less expensive at $29.99 and can achieve magnification up to 1200x. However, I’d be far more inclined to recommend this one for children as their first microscope, for a few reasons.

For one, the design aesthetics of this microscope are very kid-friendly. It was obviously made for smaller, less dexterous hands, and it shows. It also has a friendly, inviting look. No offense to Celestron with their Kids Basic Microscope, but that one feels very much like an instrument you’d find in your school’s science lab.

The detachable microscope head encourages scientific exploration. I remember when I was a child, taking a magnifying glass with me out into the garden to observe nature. This is the same principle, but you can get a much closer view than you would with a simple magnifying glass.

And third, it comes with an elegantly simple smartphone adapter. I find it invaluable to be able to conveniently photograph or video record whatever specimen you’re examining. You can certainly purchase a smartphone adapter for the Kids Basic Microscope Kit, but that’s an expensive proposition, and more complicated to attach. It’s much more convenient that an easy-to-use solution is already included with this Celestron microscope.

While the arm and head of the Celestron Kids Microscope With Smartphone Adapter are made of plastic, it has a sturdy feel, solid and well-made. And if you’re concerned with how well the microscope will hold up, you can rest easy knowing that Celestron backs it up with a 2-year warranty.

If I have one complaint, it’s a minor one. The included quickstart guide has clear, thorough information on how to operate the microscope, but there’s no information included on how to prepare a blank slide. For parents that may have been out of school for quite a few years, it would have been a nice addition to have those instructions as part of the documentation. However, it’s easy enough to look up the information online.

The Celestron Kids Microscope With Smartphone Adapter is a great way to introduce kids to the wonders of the smaller world around us. It comes in an affordable and appealing package that will encourage kids to explore. It’s easy to use, and most importantly, it makes science fun. It’s currently available to purchase directly from Celestron.

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