Tuesday, May 04, 2010

It's a Podcast! A Podcast for Active-Minded Parents and Homeschoolers #1: Introductions and Mass Hope

Christine and I were excited to try podcasting. It's an exciting medium that has been done so well by others. We wanted to explore podcasting for our particular interests of academic-oriented homeschooling and other general parenting. It's a fairly casual discussion and we hope to hear back from anyone who listens to let us know there are people listening.

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Lady Baker said...

That was fun! Now you got me looking at microscopes again. This was the one I had picked out as best before... tips or recommendations?

Product Description by C&A Scientific
My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope s uses are unlimited with dual lights. It has the flexibility to view both slides and solid items. View slides with the light shining up from below and view solid objects with the light shining down on the specimen. It is fun and educational for scientists of all ages. It includes over 50 pieces of accessories for hours of scientific research. It requires 3 AA batteries, which are not included. It contains glass and sharp instruments. Also it includes: vinyl dust cover, five plain slides, one concavity slide, four prepared slides, cover glass, plastic dropper, two bottles of stain, slide labels, lens paper, forceps, scalpel, plastic test tube, plastic Petri dish, straight teasing needle, and instruction manual and helpful hints. It features: 10X eyepiece; 4X, 10X, 40X objectives, 40X, 100X, 400X Magnification, real optical glass lenses, dual focusing knobs, two LED lights, and six hole disc diaphragms.
Amazon: List Price: $79.99
Price: $58.67

Kim said...

Unfortunately the most common problem with microscopes has very little to do with any of their features. You can have a well-featured microscope that has a range of magnification (though most microscopy, especially for beginners, takes place with less than 100X), or a light source (which is much better than a mirror, though it's better if the light source is cool), a movable stage (a nice luxury), but the telling factor really is the quality of the lenses and their design.

Just like light going through a prism is bent (and please forgive me if I explain too much), light moving through a lens is also bent and each wavelength is bent by a different amount. Well-designed microscopes use a lens prescription or glass to minimize this affect. In our cheap-o, toy microscope, this chromatic aberration appears as a rainbow effect around the details. We can see the shapes, but the multiple multi-color images are hard to interpret. If a microscope is described as "achromatic", then the lenses are adjusted to minimize this distortion.

So that's the trade-off. To just view cool things up close and get excited that you're seeing something so tiny so well, that one sounds like a good choice. The light coming from top and bottom is a nice touch! You'll be able to details on thicker specimens instead of just transparent, thin ones. If you think you may want to get really life-like images without confusing extra images, then perhaps looking for achromatic lenses is the way to go.

It's still cool to see the things up close with the cheaper lenses, but it's important to know what you're getting for your money and whether it will suit what you're hoping to do. Sometimes, it's just as good to purchase one of the toy microscopes to "get started" rather than paying more for a decent package that doesn't have good optics.

I didn't go into the iris problem (a way to control how much light comes through--which you may want to be able to adjust for higher magnifications), but there are a few decent "how to buy a microscope guides" you can google to figure out if you need to worry about that.

Whew! That was long just to say, "It depends on what you want to get out of it!"

Jan said...

Hi Kim, I'm new to blogging, too. And a homeschooler. Keep it up! It's such a great discipline and it reminds us moms about the discipline our kids have to have with school.

Visit me when you have a minute.
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