Hello from Minnesota!

What is your microscopy history? What are your interests? What equipment do you use?
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Hello from Minnesota!

#1 Post by jason » Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:16 am

Greetings to you all. My 8 y.o. son and I got very interested in microscopy due to the recent Journey to Microcosmos youtube channel. We'd watch them together and talk all about the stuff that was showing up on screen (had to back it up many times to hear what THEY were saying about it). My son started using the microscope in his (Montessori) classroom and even did a report on it. So it was pretty clear he had to get a microscope for Christmas. Our main interest is in microorganisms rather than static stuff like plants and tissue samples.

I wound up picking up the Swift / National Opticals SS-110 Microscope, only to read much later that Oliver recommended it as a good cheapie microscope. My thought was to buy him a microscope and then see if he took care of it and was still interested in all this 6 months down the road, at which point he could save up money and maybe we'd match it and help him get something nicer. I figured $65 was just right.

He was very excited to receive it and we both had a lot of fun using it. Even better when we managed to get some samples (tough to do in frozen Minnesota winter!) We got some very lively colpoda in one sample that was just some dirt and grass from the yard, combined with melted snow. In another we managed to see lots and lots of synura. Somewhere in there was a nematode. And there was lots of other stuff we didn't know the name for yet (and some we still don't). In fact, we called the colpoda the "cashews" until I finally nailed down the classification.

Then my craigslist saved search for "microscope" sent me an alert. An old microscope still in good working condition. Looks like it's a binocular Olympus KHC. Did some googling. I think that's worth $25! We went and got it on New Year's Day and WOW!, what a difference! It has some wear and tear and probably needs some TLC (which should be easy thanks to the amazing instructions for rebuilding one that are floating around). Now I'm looking into darkfield patch filters, blue filters, etc.

A little over a week later and we're still having a great time. Since then we've identified coleps, aspidisca (we think, it might be a hypotrich), amoebas, vorticella, peranema, stenostomum (big suckers!), rotifers, and lots and lots of diatoms. My phone adapter finally arrived and I got to take a few shots (I'll post them elsewhere). I literally stayed up until late doing "just one more slide" from the samples I collected. And tonight I came upstairs from work to find my son was deep into the slides. He found tons of dividing ciliates and kept up a running commentary. The only casualty is my wife, who just isn't interested enough to get up every five minutes to see the next cool thing. Now she wishes we'd go back to our obsessive cataloging of birds. She knew I was a nature nerd when she married me, so she has no excuse. :D

I've found the posts here to be very helpful, as well as Oliver's videos. Glad to find such a great community!

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Re: Hello from Minnesota!

#2 Post by WhyMe » Sat Jan 11, 2020 2:22 am

Welcome to the forum! It sounds like a great time with your son!

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Re: Hello from Minnesota!

#3 Post by Rossf » Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:00 am

You sound like a really cool dad to have! Nice you can bond with your son over such an interesting and wholesome hobby. Try oblique filters too-they can be quite effective to outline amoebae (especially if you drop the condenser lower than normal-well on my scope anyway) and dirt cheap to make. I also give funny names to things until I can identify them properly. Im currently trying to identify “crocodiles”..
Have fun.

Dave S
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Location: Suffolk, UK

Re: Hello from Minnesota!

#4 Post by Dave S » Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:15 pm

Hi Jason, and welcome. :)
Suffolk, UK

Brunel SP100 (with 4x, 10x, 40x,60x, and 100x (oil) plan objectives), and Canon EOS 4000d Camera (microscopy use only)

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Re: Hello from Minnesota!

#5 Post by PeteM » Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:09 pm

Sounds like you and your son are off to a great start.

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