What might be a halfway-decent but still cheap microscope?

Continuing the discussion from Luxo 237 system binocular microscope:

I don’t need anything that fancy, but my 6-year-old daughter has expressed lots of interest in a microscope, or at least something with good enough magnification (and illumination) to really examine skin and hair and teeny little bugs, if not actual cells. I picked up a cheapie binocular microscope at Fry’s for something like $40, but it’s truly craptacular, dim, and pretty much unusable.

Could anyone recommend a halfway-decent entry-level microscope that might maintain a kid’s interest in microbiology without causing squinting headaches or breaking the bank? Like preferably under $200? Or is that a fool’s errand?

If you want a microscope suitable for looking at biological specimens on slides, then go to ebay and search for “ao microscope”. They run from $50-150, and are reasonably good for student use. You’ll need to get some slides and cover slips etc. to prepare specimens, and make sure you have a light source.

AO, huh? Great! Thanks.

More or less anything by Zeiss.
Try looking for “Carl Zeiss Jena”. That was the GDR version of Zeiss, they made and exported lots of them. The design is somewhat bulky (but not old-fashioned enough to pass as steampunk) but very robust.

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