Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

TKx400i Dual-LED Microscope

TKx400i Dual-LED Microscope

Fall 2017 Toys
Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $99.95

The Thames & Kosmos TKx400i Dual-LED Microscope is a solid entry into the student microscope market. Appropriate for middle and high-school biology students, the kit includes a medium-weight microscope with 4x, 10x, and 40x objectives that couple with a 10x eyepiece to provide 40x, 100x, and 400x magnification. This classic microscope allows us to see the worlds of the very small, very close up.

A lower LED allows backlit viewing of translucent slides; the light is adjustable to provide more than adequate illumination at high magnification without being blindingly bright at lower magnification. An additional upper LED, also adjustable in brightness, provides visibility of opaque and dimensional objects. Both lights are battery-powered for convenience in field work.

The microscope kit includes three prepared sample slides (frog's blood, onion skin, and wool fibers), enough to test out the microscope's range and to give kids a taste of its capabilities; additional slides and cover slips are included for students to prepare their own. The kit includes tools for collecting and slicing objects to present them on the slides. It is also possible to use the microscope to view objects that do not require a slide (the manual recommends leaves, flowers, stones, coins, paper money, or stamps).

The set includes two manuals: a black-and-white booklet that introduces the features of this particular microscope and kit, and a more detailed, full-color, general introduction to microscopy. The Microscopy book provides a wider range of activities and a thorough glossary for microscope terms, and can be used as a supplemental text in a biology class or as a resource for the merely curious. Students who wish to pursue a deeper study of the microscopic world will need additional resources, both written and chemical (for example, stains for certain slides), but the TKx400i is an excellent place to start.

Emily Crawford   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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