We can all agree that the human brain is an amazing thing. According to Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child, "in the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections form every second."
Later in life, our brains start pruning their connections, which improves their efficiency but relies on the connections that were developed in our younger years. With so much of the brain's development taking place during early childhood, it's so important to give kids the best start we can.
When we're looking for ways to occupy and stimulate growing minds, we don't need to look any further than STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics) products that are both fun — we learn through enjoyable play, after all — and great for cognitive development.
These products can kick off a lifetime of curiosity and exploration, making the scientific process fun and accessible. They are designed to make intelligence-satisfying activities more enticing than just zoning out in front of a screen.
Remember how much fun it was as a kid to see the invisible world come alive under a microscope?
The IQCrew Collection makes the invisible world visible and exciting. Our fully functional, high-quality STEM toys come in several bundles to kickstart kids' sense of wonder, which is so important no matter what their future life or career hold. Our bundles are also great ways for kids and parents to bond, as they discover the marvels of the natural world together.
The sky's the limit when it comes to exploring the natural world — but there are limitless things to explore at the microscopic level, too! Here are a few ideas to get started.
Compound Microscope Experiment
Think of an object that seems familiar — it could be an insect, a hair, onion skin, or even a dry leaf collected from a walk outside.
Now put it under your microscope and see the universe that's invisible to the naked eye. This article from Rs' Science has some great suggestions for things that will "blow your mind" under a microscope, including:
- Soap foam
- Water bears
- Eggshell membrane
Soap foam, for example, reveals a structure of dancing bubbles. Water bears, found in damp habitats, are tiny creatures with eight legs that may swim or crawl under your microscope.
You can find the best microscope for the job here to reveal what lies beneath. It comes with prepared slides, plus a slide preparation kit so you can make your own (including tweezers, instructions, and dye for samples). It works on opaque and translucent samples and magnifies from 40 up to 1000 times. Note that our microscopes aren't just STEM toys — they are fully functioning microscopes with quality parts!
Stereo Microscope Activity
Stereo microscopes are designed to allow for a closer, 3D view of objects like fossils or stamps — objects we can bring more vividly to life and whose detail we can admire, but which don't require the same degree of magnification that a compound microscope provides.
Here's one activity suggestion: go for a walk wherever you live. If you're lucky enough to live in a more rural area or near the beach, you might be able to find a fossil or cool rock. If you're in a more urban area, you can look for interesting artifacts like pine cones fallen from trees, or pieces of old glass (if you live in an older city). This jazz musician has even found micrometeorites in his roofing gutters.
Make sure to explore safely, and enjoy putting your hometown under the microscope!
Our stereo microscope bundle is a perfect way to encourage kids' fascination with the world around them. If fossils aren't their thing, the bundle comes with cool stamps from around the world that are all richly colored and beautifully designed to help generate interest in other cultures and the world around us.
These stereo microscopes also connect easily to Macs or PCs, bridging the natural and digital worlds.
This fun activity goes from the microscopic world to the vastness of the solar system. Think about how much fun it would be on a clear night to look out at the stars and planets with our telescope bundle. As an activity, use the internet or an astronomy app to look up which planets should be visible at the current time of year. Then take our telescope outside, and see if you can spot them!
If Venus or Mars isn't transiting past you, that's okay — try looking for common constellations, instead. We love creating a log or journal of all the ones we've found so we can keep track of them. There might be nothing more exciting for a junior scientist than getting an actual view of the Big Dipper, Orion, or the North Star.
Our 70mm refractor telescope gathers enough light and has enough magnification to see as far as Jupiter's moons or Saturn's rings.
Digital Microscope Activity
We understand that kids love screens and technology — that's why we offer these digital microscopes, which are amazing educational STEM toys that kids can use to share their observations via any video conferencing service like Zoom or Skype. The microscope's camera is automatically detected using a USB hookup, making it easy to use and great for sharing with family. This setup makes it possible for friends to compare their findings, whether they're just down the street or on the other side of the country. Why not have two friends (or cousins) go out and collect samples and compare the looks of the rocks in the different places where they live? This way, we can open a conversation and teach our kids about different regional ecosystems.
The Wonder of Microscope and Telescope Fun
The perfect way to help kids understand the world around them and give them a head start with STEM is by giving them something from the IQ Crew Collection. The microscopes and telescopes in the IQ crew collection make it easy to save, share, and send observations to friends and junior scientific colleagues.
Sometimes, we just need the right equipment to remind us that the world is an incredible place. Fortunately, it's always easy to find the right lab equipment at AmScope.
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