Choosing the right USB microscope for your classroom


Bring your science lessons to life with a USB Microscope and discover what exists in our world which can’t be seen to the naked eye. 

USB microscopes are an excellent resource that every classroom should have for the following reasons

  • They make science real.  Students will be amazed at what exists on our skin and our environment.  It will literally change their perspective of how they view our world.
  • They allow students and teachers to use a high quality scientific tool that can be shared on interactive whiteboards, computers and mobile devices. No longer are they a single user experience.
  • The cost of these devices is now too good to pass up on.  You can spend $30 or $3,000 depending on your needs and budget but even the cheapest of USB microscopes offers great teaching and learning opportunities.

Today we are going to look at three different models that hopefully will fit your budget and meet your teaching needs.

Please note that buying any digital microscope can become a little misleading and confusing at times with some ridiculous claims about zoom capacity and other specifications.  Stick to the basics and do your homework online if you are unsure.

Be aware that the optical zoom is a true enlargement using the lenses of the device.  A digital zoom is a just a computerised enlargement.  Always refer to the optical zoom as your guide.

Celestron 44302 Deluxe Handheld Digital Microsocope – A Great Starting point.

The Celestron 44302 is a great starting point for either a student or, teacher and more importantly an excellent option to buy in bulk for a classroom.

It will definitely offer you an instant plug and play solution and the software is simple enough for students to master in a few minutes.  The build quality is good and it can take a little abuse.

The optics give good pictures. The included software is basic, but works well on Windows and Mac. The biggest barrier to making good use of this item is thinking of it as a traditional microscope as it can be used as a portable device by removing it from the stand, which is generally how most people will use it.

The focus and lighting features can be a little touchy at times and occasionally there it just too much glare for my linking, and it is at this point you realise you are using a $50 microscope.

Your students will love trawling the playground to discover new items to explore on the Celestron.

All in all though this is a great introduction to USB microscopes for teachers and students.  It offers good image quality for the price and you can feel confident it will be still working in a few years’ time if you treat it with a little respect.


AmScope 10x-20x-30x-60x Advanced All Metal Full Glass Optics Student Binocular Stereo Microscope with Incident (Top) and Transmitted (Bottom) Lights

In stepping up to the Am scope you are getting a genuine glass optical microscope that offers up to 60x optical zoom and for under $300.

You are getting a premium piece of equipment for a secondary science lab or a tool primary teachers might want to use to really enhance something students have been looking at on their lower specced microscopes such as the Celestron.

It offers excellent image quality and is very well built.  Be aware that this unit is a static microscope and would not recommend moving it around too much unlike the celestron listed above.

This microscope exceeded my expectations greatly and it would be fair to compare it with the university standard microscopes I have used many years ago at a fraction of the cost and twice the ability thanks to the USB connectivity and software supplied..

The unit comes assembled. There is a second pair of higher power top lenses supplied, but the lower power ones that come pre-installed are perfect.  The bottom lens changes between 1 and 3 power.  You will find this unit to be very precise for the vast majority of use.

- Wide objective makes it fairly easy to find your target
- Interchangeable stage plates are great for when you need contrast (or don't) to see your specimen well
- Binocular-style eyepieces make it easy to adjust when switching viewers

- Rough focus can be a little hard to achieve with a specimen already on the stage.  Ensure you have a good grip on this thing or it may end in tears.

AmScope 3.5X-90X Simul-Focal Trinocular Articulating Microscope + 5M USB Camera

This is a professional piece of equipment coming in at under $1000 dollars.  It offers a super wide field of vision and excellent image quality which is far superior to anything else in this price bracket.

I’ll be honest and state that I have never used this unit but I worked with a metallurgist who raved about the clarity of vision and ultra-precise measuring tools which are included in the software.  For a professional laboratory piece of equipment under $1000 this would be worth investigating.