Thursday, December 31, 2009

Do they see what you see? Part 1: Dual View Scopes

One of the issues that come up when our students and children are using a microscope is whether or not they are really seeing what they think they are seeing.

It's especially difficult with live specimens in fluid. We can locate an amoeba and put it right in the center of the field of view only to have the table or scope jostle slightly as we transfer from our viewing to the child viewing. A lot of debri has been erroneously identified as an amoeba!

One of the best ways to ensure that our students and children are seeing what we expect them to see is to use a dual view scope like the Premiere Microscope MF-04.

The MF-04 has two monocular heads with two 10x eyepieces. Two people can view the target subject at the very same time. The MF-04 can also be used with a regular digital still or video camera with the proper attachment with the camera being attached to the top head without prohibiting the user from directly seeing the same image the camera sees.

At the time of this review the MF-04 seems to be selling at just under $300. But, we believe this scope is well worth the investment. In fact, this is our favorite microscope for middle and high school students precisely because it ensures that the child is seeing what the parent is expecting them to see.

From a long term investment point of view the features of the MF-04 put it well above most student monocular microscopes. It's a member of the Premiere Advanced Microscope series. And, a little known secret is that C & N Scientific has a binocular head that fits the frame of the MF-04 perfectly, extending the usefulness of this scope well beyond the high school level. It turns the monocular dual-view MF-04 into the MF-02 Advanced Binocular Microscope.

While we could run through a laundry list of the features of this scope, that information is available on the many web sites that sell this microscope. So, we'll just point out a couple of the special features beyond the dual view capability.

One of the unique features of the Advanced Microscope Series (MF-01, MF-02, MF-04) is the separate locations of the course and fine focus knobs. This actually has real value for younger students because the macro focus and the micro focus operations are less inclined to be confused. The four objectives are nominally parfocal and parcentered, in actual practice a little touchup on the micro focus is usually necessary.

The other unique feature of this series is the 5W fluorescent illuminator. We like viewing live protozoa and the fluorescent lighting is cooler for the specimens than the incandescent lights common in most scopes.

All in all this is a wonderful way to ensure that our students and children are really seeing what we want them to see and learning what we think they are learning. We dual view fans.


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