Factors to Consider When Selecting Student Microscopes for Schools and Universities

Vince Vaccarelli Leica Microsystems Inc. | 1700 Leider Lane, Buffalo Grove, IL, 60089

Abstract: Selection of microscopes for student use involves many factors. The microscopes must stand up to daily use by students with little experience, be constantly up and running, and fit the budget requirements. Especially with student microscopes, practical aspects can be important. Thus, size, weight, cabling, and design should be taken into consideration even before the microscope and its accesso- ries enter the decision process. If chosen carefully, educational micro- scopes can delight young minds in schools and universities, and, ideally, the experience will fascinate them enough that they decide to make science their profession.

Keywords: Student microscopes, durability, usability, resolu- tion, accessories

Introduction Selecting educational microscopes is not an easy task for

teachers. Tese microscopes must stand up to daily student use, be constantly up and running, and oſten fit strict budget requirements. Especially with student microscopes, practi- cal aspects can play a significant role. Tus, their size, weight, cabling, and design are important for their daily use, and these factors should be taken into account before considering the pur- chase of microscopes and their accessories. If chosen carefully, educational microscopes can open windows

to a cosmos of minute

detail that can delight young minds in schools and universities and fasci- nate them enough so that they con- sider a career in science. Tis article describes various factors to consider when selecting microscopes for edu- cational settings.

Classroom Environment From our experience, there are

two types of classrooms. Te first is the laboratory. Microscopes are set up once and remain at the same place all the time (Figure 1). Tere may be long rows of tables, oſten with little space between the rows. In this case, fewer cables around the micro- scope will create a better workspace. Microscopes could become dislodged if students’ arms or bags get caught in cables when they take their seats.

28 Te second type of classroom has storage space for

microscopes (Figure 2). Te microscopes are taken out of storage, set up on the worktops at the beginning of class, and put away again at the end. In this case, there are several fac- tors to consider. Size. Do the microscopes fit the storage space? Tere

should be enough space between the instruments and perhaps dividers, so that they do not touch. It also makes sense to check that moveable parts are separated enough so that they are not easily damaged. Weight. Because the microscopes are moved for every les-

son, they should be easy for one person to carry. Also take a look at the design. It may be challenging to grasp a microscope securely if it does not have a handle. Cables. If cables hang down from the microscopes, they

can tangle in storage as well as on the way to the benches. Imagine thirty students carrying microscopes and drag- ging the plugs behind them on the floor, creating tripping hazards. For both labs and classrooms with storage capacity, the environmental conditions are worth considering. If

Figure 1: Educational microscopes in a teaching laboratory at Buffalo State College. Courtesy of Gary Solar, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY.

doi:10.1017/S155192951800144X • 2019 May

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