PROS / The cordless functionality and carry handle free your child to take this microscope anywhere.
CONS / The stage moves almost constantly, causing things to go out of focus.
VERDICT / The dual design and quality optics mean kids can look at slides and 3D objects with the TK2 Scope.
The TK2 Scope from Thames & Kosmos, with its versatility and great reputation, is destined to give your child wonderful, early experiences in microscopy, and it's our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner for kids microscopes. This tool is designed to offer legitimate scientific learning at a price point that parents can afford.
Getting what you pay for, or even a little more, is no small task in this family of products. A quick perusal of kids microscope reviews online reveals many cases of people getting less than what they paid for with cheap, plastic children's microscopes. Such is not the case with the TK2 Scope. The best kids microscope is one that will coax a budding interest in science to come into full bloom. The TK2 Scope can do that.
The TK2’s dual design means you can examine see through objects illuminated by a light below and solid objects illuminated from above. We got some really high-quality views with this microscope including a practically perfect view of our test penny. We could see a lot of detail with TK2.
The newest scientists are going to be curious about their world. This instrument will help them get a new perspective on anything from paramecia to pollen. A child will be able to swab the inside of his mouth and view the sample with the TK2, or pick up an interesting stone in his path for closer examination.
The lenses are crafted of professional-quality glass and this microscope’s body is sturdy. The device has an aperture wheel, which will allow micronauts to dictate different light-gathering levels for the optical path. The three objective lenses will also provide a wide range of views. Having all of these viewing options should provide hours of entertainment for children of all ages. The one drawback with TK2 views is the roving stage. We have tested this product extensively and it does not stay in focus unless you make it. The stage moves most of the time. When it is in focus the views are great, and you can force it to stay in focus by keeping your hand on the knob.
The kit offers a short but useful list of accessories. It includes tweezers, a Petri dish, stain, blank slides and slide covers, a pipette, a scalpel, a collection vial and needles. There are only five prepared slides included with the microscope, so your child likely will want to start gathering their own specimens soon after purchase. Parents also have the option of ordering more prepared slides from a number of suppliers.
The TK2 set comes with a logical learning pattern all mapped out. The included materials are designed to lead children through the different levels of exploration. First, they can become familiar with their instrument, learning about each of the parts. Then, they can delve into the prepared slides – practically guaranteed to offer astounding views that will prompt curiosity about individual slide preparation. Next, can start gathering their own specimens after being provided all of the guidance they will need. An included full-color glossy manual can coach your child through each step of the process.
More advanced science students can disregard all of the included information, take the empty slides out of the box and start collecting specimens, but we love the fact that younger children can get a full microscope education before diving in.
Ease of Use
Battery-operated LED lights and a cordless design enable this scope to go anywhere your child goes. There is a built-in handle, and this scope is known for being durable. It is not fully constructed of metal, but the plastic portions are built to be tough.
Unfortunately, there is no carrying case. That would make it even more portable and easier to store. Taking the TK2 on a road trip will be more difficult than bringing along the other scopes in our lineup that have carrying cases. That’s a shame because portable microscopes encourage kids to learn while they explore the natural world.
Help & Support
Helpful and knowledgeable representatives pick up the phone quickly when you contact Thames & Kosmos. The company also offers an email contact for any questions you may have. Longer customer service hours would be nice, but this equipment should be easy enough to use so a microscope catastrophe is unlikely. Thames & Kosmos backs this product with a one-year warranty, which is good but not great.
Having a company with a strong reputation behind it adds to the support component of this product. Thames & Kosmos is a relatively young company, founded in 2001, but it has a long list of awards for its educational toys. We think parents and children alike will enjoy the TK2 Scope. It offers versatility and high-quality optics, backed by a company with a stellar reputation for motivating the next generation of scientists.