Indoor/Outdoor Super-Powered Microscope (SMARTLAB)
Shar Levine
SMARTLAB (2007)
ISBN 9781932855791
Reviewed by Evan (age 7) and Ben (age 11) Weldon with a little help from their mom for Reader Views (1/09)

SMARTLAB’s Indoor/Outdoor Super-Powered Microscope kit is a neat science kit.  It is really cool to look at things (even very obvious things) and get to see them magnified.  We looked at all sorts of stuff including blocks, metal items, and even our dog.

The kit contains a 4-inch plastic microscope that magnifies things forty times.  The microscope can snap into a little plastic stand for viewing slides or can be used alone by pressing the tip of the microscope up against whatever you want to see.  There is no need to focus, and the specimen is automatically illuminated by an LED at the tip (batteries are included and already installed).  The kit includes prepared slides of a honeybee leg, a fruit fly, a silver berry, and a dragonfly wing.  There are also extra blank slides and cover slips so you can make your own slides.  The images are not super-clear, but they are good enough to be interesting.  The light is so bright that it is hard to see light colored objects, but it works well on dark things like our puppy’s black paw pad.  It also works well to look at clothing fibers and all the colored dots on a printed page.  Our four-year-old brother hung the microscope around his neck (on the included lanyard) and had a great time looking at all kinds of stuff when we went shopping.

The 32-page book included with the kit, “Up Close and Personal,” by Shar Levine, gives ideas about what to look at with the microscope and shows some pictures of things from under a microscope.  But these pictures were taken with a different microscope; sometimes we saw things more clearly and sometimes not.  For example, they had a picture a dirty shirt but we couldn’t see anything quite like it (and we have some dirty shirts around our house!).  The book also had interesting sidebars with facts about rocks, crystals and money.  The book never explained why the images we saw appeared upside down.

I would recommend SMARTLAB’s “Indoor/Outdoor Super-Powered Microscope” kit for kids aged four to eleven-years-old.  This kit and the accompanying book, “Up Close and Personal” by Shar Levine, would make a good birthday or Christmas gift.  Everything you need to enjoy this kit is either in the box or all around you.  It’s really fun to fiddle with!

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