So, what is the Discovery Scope? Well, it looks like this:
And it's sheer brilliance. It's a handheld wide-field microscope that's small enough to fit in a pocket and durable enough for a child (or a very non-microscope inclined adult) to use.
Everything you need to use the Discovery Scope comes in the basic kit ($40). That includes the scope itself, as well as one mini-clip (the arm like thing you see in the picture above with the clip on the end), one multi-use chamber holder, two clear view chambers (you'll see one of those in my photos below), one Biology in a Bag (small baggie to place items in), one water dropper, and one quick slide for making slides to examine.
It is beyond easy to use. You literally just clip something to the clip (or put it in a clear view chamber, or a Bio Bag or on a slide), put your eye to the eye cup, and slide the focus tube in or out until the item is in focus. Then you can slide the tool holding the item side to side or up and down to scan the item and see all around it. So easy, even a child can do it!
Here's some fun we had looking at a baby lizard and then a pill bug:
The pros: It's a microscope even I can use. That right there makes it worth the money. But more than that, it's one my kids can use easily with fantastic results. It uses available light, and there is virtually nothing that you can't examine more closely. We looked at fern leaves, tree bark, carpenter ants, juvenile assassin bugs, and more flowers and flower parts than I can list. And you can look at fingernails, and hair, and skin, and well, everything. And it's completely portable. It arrived in a small reusable plastic container, and that neatly holds all the parts. And as microscopes go, it's affordable. Finally, as a plus, my youngest child is 7, and she could use it with ease.
The cons: You do have to get close- really, really close to the object. So you aren't likely to get a good look at a bee or a black widow spider...but that's not really a problem for me. And actually, after 3 bees came inside with me courtesy of my having to cut the top off a multi-blossom sun flower, we could look at bees- the slightly squished kind (ewww). And this is nice magnification, but you aren't going to see cellular level stuff. We could see the defined shafts of hair, and the subtle color differences between strands, but not the scales on the individual strands. On the other hand, I could see how very dry and flaky the cuticles of my fingers are!
The bottom line: Every homeschool should own one. Seriously. I don't say that about much, but I really, really think this is cool and it's educational. Its ease of use encourages kids to find more and more things to view- like a science scavenger hunt. Plus, for many, it's all the microscope you will ever need, because really, you can view high magnification slides of almost any upper level science subjects (like blood cells or plant cells or bone tissue, etc.) online without owning a microscope at all. But this made my kids WANT to look at things in more detail. They wanted to dig deeper and see more and discover it for themselves. It offers real, living science, and it fits perfectly in with our lifestyle. As a photographer, I am even contemplating getting the camera base that allows you to more easily photograph the items you are examining so I can use it professionally too.
To order a Discovery Scope for yourself, go to the Discovery Scope website. To see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say, go to the Crew blog.
Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the Review Crew, I received a Basic Discovery Scope kit in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed were entirely my own, and the subsequent fun we had was entirely for real!