Being persistently curious is a child’s first nature.
Can you blame them?
There are infinitely many things to discover in the universe. From shimmering stars distributed throughout the cosmic to countless wonders that lay beyond what the human eyes could perceive.
Undoubtedly, one of the most instrumental pieces of equipment that enables people to see the world up-close and personal are microscopes.
These ultra-magnifying devices uncover the earth’s micro-mysteries and facilitate scientific exploration. It’s quite easy to imagine a professional, scientific practitioner using such a tool.
But in recent years, companies started promoting the sale of microscopes and their toy derivatives to families. As a result, you might’ve come across toy stores advertising kids’ microscopes as STEM tools that can awaken a child’s science conquest.
But how true is this?
How are microscopes helpful for children, even as young as toddlers?
Come, investigate with me.
The Relationship of Children and Microscopes
Microscopes are not new to children. The public school curriculum includes studying and using these devices in the classroom to supplement science lessons.
From studying micro-beasts in primary school to using actual microscopes in secondary school. Microscopes are essential, especially for kids who want to pursue careers related to science.
Then that’s settled. Microscopes are useful for students.
But how about toddlers and children?
Since tons of microscope toys are sold from different toy companies, are there any cognitive merits in buying microscopes for your child?
Well, here’s the thing…
The Hard Truth: Buying A Microscope Doesn’t Make Children Smart
Microscopes are not super-smart serums
Countless companies advocate that parents should buy microscopes for their children as early exposure to the device and what it can do.
But by the end of the day, a microscope is no intelligence-inducing multivitamin.
No matter how companies inject the idea that microscopes make children smart, they don’t.
Microscopes are only tools.
But please don’t get me wrong, microscopes are extremely useful tools at that.
They are instruments that children can use to explore their surroundings and see the world from a whole new perspective.
Although they’re not the smartening agents that some toy companies advertise them to be, there are still meritorious benefits to kids using microscopes — they feed on children’s curiosity.
And curious kids will always look for answers.
It takes two to tango
Children playing and using microscopes is one thing, but parental guidance is another.
If you want your child to maximize the benefits they can get from microscopes, you also have a crucial role to play.
Microscopes are effective curiosity-inciting devices for children.
But as parents, your guidance is necessary to aid your child’s scientific discovery towards ends that actually add knowledge.
How you control the flow of their learning and direct their use of the microscope can make or break your child’s desire to seek more scientific knowledge.
That said, it’s best not to leave your child exploring on their own. If you could join them, all the better.
Here are some ways:
Let them take the lead and provide support only when needed. This way, you train their independence and let their brains run loose to whatever interests them most.
Be present to answer their questions when you can. But let them think first before you give out any information. Then, if you can’t answer questions, be sincere and tell them you don’t know, but you may offer to investigate the answer with them.
Steer the course of their exploration by asking thought-inducing questions, like:
What do you observe looking at [certain specimen]?
Why do you think this [certain specimen] has this [particular feature]? What do you think is the purpose?
What other specimens or samples pique your curiosity? Why?
After all, it takes two to tango — a child’s microscope use and your parental guidance — and these two aspects working together is what facilitates learning.
So should you still buy a microscope for your child? — A RESOUNDING YES!
Agreed, these instruments are no instant tools that flip a child’s life towards an incredible passion for the sciences. But with proper guidance, there are tons of benefits kids can get from microscopes.
And here they are:
The Benefits of Microscopes for Children
1. The real microscope experience
Indeed, everything is accessible online. A child can see the most interesting magnified specimens with one google search.
But nothing beats the “authentic microscope experience.”
Taking some interesting samples outdoors, setting them on your slide, and peeking through the lenses are all parts of the full process.
Or, in the case of portable kids’ microscopes, getting kids to bring their very own device outdoors to investigate mud, blades of grass, leaves, and critters is an experience that children can never miss out on!
Seeing my children’s eyes light up in astonishment when magnifying bugs and other things make the whole investment worth it.
2. Microscopes strengthen a child’s academic experience
Having direct access to microscopes helps supplement their learning experience. This is especially true once students develop a subtle interest in the field of science.
Plus, instead of theoretical, microscopes make scientific learning hands-on and practical.
Since using microscopes in the classroom is typically limited, children’s desire to explore might also be restricted.
So owning a microscope is useful for acquiring in-depth information not discussed in classrooms. This makes the device fundamental, especially if your child is keen to learn more about microbiology.
On the other hand, portable microscopes make a regular outdoor stroll into an educational field visit. With one reach to their pockets, they can access the lightweight magnifying tool to investigate the curiosities around them.
3. Inspire an inextinguishable curiosity
As seen in the texts above, microscopes don't make kids geniuses, but they can add fuel to the flames of a child’s unrelenting curiosity.
When my children first viewed prepared microscope slides, I saw how their eyes glimmered in enthusiasm seeing how differently magnified objects look to what normal human sight can see.
As a result, they’ve been bringing their microscope wherever they go as, in their own words, “there might see something interesting,” and they sure wouldn’t want to miss it.
Curiosity is the key ingredient of genius.
What separates the innovators and scientists from regular people is that they let their curiosity take over and brilliance sprout in succession.
The same can be said of your child. Who knows where their simple curiosity could take them.
As for a 6-year-old German kid who received a compass from his father, his curiosity led him to become a famous theoretical physicist. His name was Albert Einstein.
4. Accompany their outdoor exploration
The awesome thing about microscopes is that they come in all shapes and sizes.
Some are intended for tabletop usage, so wherever your child picks out their specimens elsewhere, they could all go back to the same spot where the microscope is at. Perfect for their at-home scientific exploration.
While other microscopes are meant to be brought everywhere kids go. These portable kids’ microscopes, like the STEMscope, are lightweight and pocketable so that kids can carry them without a sweat.
Portability is the ideal attribute for adventurous and outdoor-loving children keen to investigate every peculiar sight.
That means learning is not nailed down at home. But any place can be a fun source of education.
5. They are a unique source of entertainment
Whether you unleash the science whiz inside your child or not, having a microscope is a source of entertainment like no other.
While other kids amuse themselves in excessive screen exposure, your child would find joy examining objects in close scrutiny.
And for me, the idea of seeing my children smile in bewilderment tipped the scale in my decision to buy them a microscope.
Are the 5 reasons enough to invest in a microscope for kids?
Buying a microscope for your child shouldn’t focus on the STEM career you imagine them to achieve in the future. Practically, there’s a long way to that end, but it’s possible with the right guidance.
Indeed, there are cognitive merits in buying microscopes. And it might be the missing ingredient to awaken the budding scientist within them.
But whether or not that comes to pass, they’d have a wonderful time playing with microscopes, nonetheless. And you cannot put a price on a child’s happiness.
You may check our STEMscope kids’ microscope if you’re looking for your next microscope gift for a child you love.