App review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2019
UHandy
Common Sense Selection
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UHandy

Microscope attachment for mobile devices inspires field investigation

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Grades
4–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Science, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Accessories such as sampling stickers and the light stage make handheld microscopy easy.

Cons: Higher quality and more expensive than most cellphone microscopes; consumable stickers need to be replaced each year.

Bottom Line: The use of stickers instead of slides helps students examine their world at the microscopic level with safety and convenience.

UHandy can be powerful in a variety of settings. Individual kids can use this digital microscope to explore their own passions. Premade sample cards are provided already loaded with spices, a down feather, or glitter. These examples can get kids excited about other items they might want to examine around the house or neighborhood.

In the classroom, microscopes allow for those amazing "aha" moments like examining salt and seeing its underlying structure. This helps students to understand that some phenomena can be observed only at microscopic scale (a Next Generation Science Standards Crosscutting Concept). And uHandy can make microscopic work more convenient, particularly when working outdoors.

Depending on grade level and needs, uHandy may not be a cheaper option. Traditional microscopes range in price from $70 to $300. To get both high and low magnification, the uHandy Duet is needed; it runs $129.25. Additionally, the stickers are consumable and will need to be replaced each school year.

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UHandy is a digital microscope attachment for your handheld smart device. The app includes a digital ruler, allowing kids to measure the size of their specimens on the screen. It also includes a focus tool that lets kids move between the layers of onions or other samples. The app is free but the microscope attachment and accessories come at a cost ranging from the $34.95 uHandy Lite to the $129.95 uHandy Duet.

The more expensive uHandy Duet comes with two lenses for mobile devices. The low-magnification lens allows the viewer to see texture such as the cilia that line the edges of butterfly wings, while the high-magnification lens can help students see underlying structures such as the scales that make up the butterfly wing.

One of a series of products that turn the camera on a smart device into a microscope, uHandy stands out because it's easy to attach and collect samples. This allows students to take their microscopic learning into the field. Kids can now examine pond water right next to the pond, increasing the likelihood that their specimens stay alive.

The uHandy product utilizes stickers instead of slides. These are safer and more convenient than traditional glass slides and coverslips. Stickers can be saved in a physical collecting album where kids can make notes and create a lasting record of their discoveries. For mobile specimens, uHandy offers the bubble sampling sticker. This allows students to experience the joy of seeing a brine shrimp or paramecium move across the screen. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Kids love the instant gratification of viewing samples out in the field. UHandy is easy for students to use without a lot of adult direction.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Kids can use uHandy to gather evidence and answer their own questions. Sampling stickers make it easy to gather specimens on the playground or anywhere else they're interested in.  

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Step-by-step tutorials walk kids through how to examine specimens. The Stages portion of the app gives students ideas and examples of what to observe.


Common Sense reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

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