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The Best Student Microscope

Curious about how to buy a good student microscope? Master how to make education epic for the young scientist below. 

 For an Elementary Student (K - Grade 8) 

The most affordable student compound microscope for beginners:
The OM118-M3 40X-400X Monocular Student Compound Microscope
(Regular price $218. On sale for $129 right now)

This simple monocular compound student microscope doesn’t feel like a simple monocular microscope. It’s sturdy and durable and excellent as a workhorse for students in elementary school and early education who will eventually explore cells with beginner skills and magnification up to 400X.

  For a Freshman or Sophomore High School Student (Grade 9-10)  

The best price on a binocular microscope with a mechanical slide holder:
The OM118-B4L LED 40X-1000X Compound Student Microscope
(Regular price $489. On sale for $239 right now)

A student with a good grasp on foundational skills, or a learner who engages more with the binocular microscope, flock to this Omano model. Education institutions love it because the build construction is unusually high for the price point, and units have worked under hard use by inexperienced users for more than a decade. At up to 1000X, students get higher magnifications for deeper inquiry.

 For a Junior or Senior High School Student (Grade 11-12)

The most affordable binocular with mechanical stage:
The OM118-B4SL LED 40X-1000X Compound Student Microscope
(Regular price $538. On sale for $279 right now)

When students are ready for more advanced controls, this Omano unit is the next step up as they build their skills. In senior year, students are more serious about their microscopy, and a mechanical stage is an indispensable tool for students eyeing post-secondary education in the sciences. At 40X to 1000X, it has an excellent magnification range.

 For a University or College Student

The best introduction to digital microscopy for students:
The OM118-B4L 40X-1000X LED Compound Student Microscope with 1.3MP Digital Camera
(Regular price $607. On sale for $298 right now)

A university or college student has pinpointed their specific interest in STEM. Maybe they like looking at creatures in water samples, or the curious structures of skin cells from different animals. They can collaborate better with teachers and other students, and learn curation and cataloging skills used by scholars with the digital microscope, screen (not included), and software. Novice students who struggle with looking down the objective of an optical microscope can adjust the fine focus and have more fun with each learning activity.


Why is one of these models the best student microscope?

They have steel frames

...that are built to last with inexperienced users who tend to be harder on delicate instruments than they should be.

They have precision optics

...that produce clear, sharp images students can explore, understand, interpret, and get excited about.

They are value-priced

...so the investment for your high school, college, or elementary school is manageable, even when outfitting multiple classrooms.


How to choose a student microscope

So, you’re thinking about buying student microscopes for your classroom or homeschool? Put your students on the path to becoming STEM scholars and professionals with the best on the student microscope market. 

If you feel perplexed about determining:

The best lighting

Optic comparison

The best condensers 

... fret no more. Read on to master how to purchase microscopes for students in elementary grades, high school, and college/university.

Students in your class want to feel valued and trusted. Even as novice learners, they want to explore their interests with abandon! They want to use real tools for science. And they don’t want to be patronized with a toy microscope they think would be better in the hands of their little sister or brother. The student microscope market is full of those, and they’re no good.

They don’t need fancy features as they learn to explore with a student microscope. They just need a tool they can learn to use and take care of. A tool that allows them to try this science thing out. To see if it’s an interest they want to explore. To see if maybe their life could go to science.


These student microscopes show them what’s out there and allow them to nurture their own curiosity. The lens is glass. The LED illumination is bright. 

Any high school student, college student, or young scientist in elementary school can look at a specimen through the eyepiece or at the camera image and see real magic. 

And these student microscopes last, so they’ll inspire years of students to do things they never would without a good tool to reveal and nurture the science in them


What features are best for a student microscope?

The elementary school, high school, and university/college options above aren’t written in stone. Maybe your freshman students respond better to a digital microscope because collaborating on the computer screen is more engaging to them.

Maybe your seniors are more interested in learning how to manipulate the mechanical stage, and your juniors have no interest in that yet. 

Maybe your science program is expanding, and you need a lot of microscopes on a tight departmental budget for all your students.

There is great value and education for every student in each model. And there are other models that might suit the unique needs of your students or the special program you’re running.  


But as a rule of thumb, look for these features when purchasing student microscopes for your classroom:

  • Glass lens

  • Built-in illumination (halogen or LED)

  • Mechanical stages

There is great value for every student in each model. And there are other models that might suit the unique needs of your students or the special program you’re running. 

Tell us about your lesson plans or challenges with students, and we’ll help you find the right model with a great value price. We can also recommend other models for a university or college student or more advanced research lab applications. 

The student microscope models on this page are compound microscopes. You can find stereo microscope options by browsing the rest of the site (one of the best-selling student stereo microscopes can be found here).


More questions about buying a student microscope?

Are prepared slides available?


Yes! Prepared slides for any student microscope come in groups of 5 to 50. They’re available in animal and non-animal, human histology, human pathology, plants, fungus, and lots more. You can find prepared microscope slides for students here. There are also accessories like blank slides, petri dish, or other things students use to look at samples under magnification in the chemistry or biology laboratory.

What brand of microscope does Microscope.com recommend?


In most situations, we recommend Omano brand microscopes. Omano is our house brand, and the best mix of value and features available on Microscope.com (and we think anywhere else). We are passionate about science, and Omano is our attempt at making science accessible to as many students as possible. Omano microscopes are built to last decades in the classroom so you don’t have to buy again and again.

Is a 10X eyepiece good for a student?


In most situations, a 10X eyepiece is the best choice for a student microscope. A special 10X widefield eyepiece is also an excellent choice because it gives the student a better field of view. When you use a 15X or 20X eyepiece, you get greater magnification, but it also decreases the field of view (so it’s more like looking through a keyhole instead of the objective lens at the microscope slide).

How much should I pay for a student microscope?


Departmental and faculty budgets can be tight, but most teachers and instructors know that investing in good student microscopes encourages hands-on learning that often leads to students pursuing STEM subjects at the university or college level, and then maybe as a profession.


The good news is that even if you’re working with a budget of $1000, you can get your hands on multiple real high-quality microscopes for your classroom from Microscope.com. And with our volume pricing on large orders for classrooms, the possibilities continue to grow. 

Can’t I just buy a used student microscope?


Teachers and instructors who have spent years in science departments and faculties know that good microscopes don’t suffer from “wear and tear.” They’re on the used market because they don’t offer the features pupils need, and probably don’t work as well as they should. Purchasing a used student microscope can actually add extra difficulty in learning how to use one correctly.