A Closer Look at Handheld Digital Microscopes

The invention of the microscope profoundly altered and advanced our understanding of the universe and our place in it. But its history is a bit murky. We know that the first microscope was invented in 1590, but who invented it is unclear. The first patent on record came from Hans Lippershey, but historians note that other evidence suggests the invention was by Hans and Zacharies Janssen. The father and son team of the Janssens made spectacles and lived close to Lippershey.

 The SmartMicroScope handheld digital microscope is a portable microscope comprised primarily of a microscope camera, the lens, and built-in lighting. This mini handheld microscope is designed to connect to a computer, chromebook or iPad. When used in this way, the images seen via the microscope’s lens can be viewed on a computer monitor or projected for all students to see. The images can be saved to the computer’s hard drive or in the cloud.

Digital microscopes are used widely in science and research work. The SmartMicroScope line of digital microscopes and its array of accessories are used by school districts around the world. They can be found in pre-K though grade 2 early childhood classrooms exploring insects, rocks and plants.  In elementary classrooms, digital microscopes are used to examine soil, sand, oxidation, fingerprints, seeds, and cells.  Middle school science classrooms are enhanced by the use of digital microscopes as students identify cell parts, pond organisms, different types of rocks and owl pellet contents.  A Winogradsky Column is also fascinating under the digital microscope.  In high school, the digital microscope is very useful in the Biology classroom exploring bacteria, microorganisms, plant hormones, cell structure and germination.  In the environmental science classroom, the digital microscope is used to explore water organisms, plant parts, rock formations and other environmental specimens.

Leading science educators point to the advantages of using a small digital microscope rather than a traditional microscope. The digital microscope allows for saving and printing images. It also allows presenters to display the image from the microscope on computer screens, so several team members can view the image concurrently.

The SmartMicroScope line of digital microscopes is easy to incorporate into any classroom and there are several versions for compatibility with whatever computing device used in the classroom.  There are versions compatible with PCs, Macs, chromebooks, iPads, iPhones and android devices.  It’s a small way to view a vast world.

David Walling

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