Microscope Features to Look For

In the market for a microscope for next year’s science class?  You may be looking new online or used at your local curriculum sale or swap, but whatever the case, be sure to look for these qualities in a microscope purchase:

  1. Glass optics
  2. Hefty feel
  3. Viewing size large including high power
  4. Easy to focus
  5. Stability
  6. Clips for objective security
  7. Stays focused when bumped
  8. Optics not scratched
  9. Light source good
  10. Has low and high power: 100X and 400-500X.

Good, but optional:

  1. Transportable
  2. Electric light source
  3. Parafocal
  4. Bent body tube
  5. Binocular
  6. Slide making equipment


Lookout for these qualities:

  1. Plastic optics
  2. Light weight
  3. Viewing size small especially at high power
  4. Hard to focus well
  5. Tips easily
  6. No way to secure specimen
  7. Does not stay focused when bumped, or even when not bumped
  8. Optics glass, but scratched
  9. Light source inadequate, or hard to adjust or find bulbs for
  10. Only has less than 100X, or advertises greater than 600X.
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Almost Ready to Plant


I thought I’d start posting our garden progress after discovering the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge. In March, we started seeds indoors, observed them grow, and broke ground on the outside garden.

In April, we watered the plants that started from the seeds, watched them grow some more and kept working on the outside garden.  Oh, and I bought a compost pail to go under the sink.

That’s pretty much it.  Temps at night here have been in the high 30s, and after about May 9th, we pass the 90% freeze date for our area.  If you want to find your 90% freeze date, check this handy website!

So that means in two weeks, we can plant.

Here are my seedlings so far: zucchini, roma tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper.  They’re doing pretty well!  I’ll start taking them outside during the day to harden them in the next tw0 weeks, weather permitting.


Here is progress on the garden.  It needs to be walled because of our chinook winds (75mph+) and our rabbit population (I believe they are breeding inside a large planter adjacent to the house, which is not good for the plants trying to grow there).

In this photo you can see the 6 foot wall on the left, windward side, sloping down to 3 foot on the leeward side.

The dirt is topsoil mixed with amended soil.  Don’t ask me what it is amended with, but the local dirt place called it “garden starter” or something to that effect.  I’ll take a ton!


Here are the pickets waiting to go on this weekend:


And not to be overlooked are the Russian Sage, faithfully returning from winter dormancy.  They are receiving a lot of moisture so far this spring, and they will receive more when we get them on some irrigation.


But not much of that.. they were selected to be xeriscape plantings, and so far the only thing planted that won’t be water-wise will be the garden!

But it’s worth it.


If the zucchini grows.

And for school, we have been discussing what plants need to grow, and we’ll be making the planting in a few weeks a family project.  The subsequent weeding will also be a family project.

For more progress updates on gardens, check out the linkup at Homeschool Village!

HSV Garden Challenge

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National Park Week

Rocky Mountain National Park

From April 16-April 24th (this week), it’s National Park Week, which means free admission this week and lots of activities. Check here for an events calendar and check here for information about Junior Ranger Day (April 23rd)!

What a great opportunity to get out into the National Parks and explore!

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