Posts

Fun, Magnified!

This article is available online and in edplay, the magazine for people who sell toys.  You can read the article in its original form here.

The work of noted research scientist Michael W. Davidson in the 1990s illustrates how fun it can be to “play” with a microscope. Dr. Davidson, well known for his contribution to Nobel Prize-honored research, also revealed to us the beauty in a drop of beer and the doodles engineers scribble on computer chips. By toying with magnification, and then figuring out a way to photograph what it revealed, he showed us tiny, amazing worlds that we never would have known existed.

C & A Scientific, based in Manassas, Virginia, and China, understands the fun, but also the learning potential of playing with microscopes. That’s why the company added a children’s product line, called My First Lab, to its menu of supplies and equipment for medical and science professionals. In a recent interview with Matthew Swain, C & A’s director of marketing, we learned more about parents’ expectations in the era of STEM, and how My First Lab is meeting their needs.

edplay: The My First Lab brand has been around for awhile, right?

Matthew Swain: Yes. Since 1998. C & A began five years earlier delivering microscope slides to medical product dealers. The company grew, and added professional, medical-grade microscopes to its line, along with other lab equipment. When parents and schools started contacting us, we introduced My First Lab. We still maintain our presence in the medical market, and we use that expertise for manufacturing professional microscopes to create affordable, high-quality children’s microscopes.

What are parents and teachers asking for?

In my opinion, it’s all about STEM. Parents are looking for high quality products that children can learn from while they’re having fun. In schools, teachers want to help children, no matter their background, foster critical skills for the future. Our microscopes are ideal for students who are on different learning levels, and our prepared specimen slides coincide with grade levels base on student learning.

How do My First Lab microscopes meet the demand?

Well they’re durable, so kids can take them outside and explore. We’re all about hands-on learning; we want kids to engage and interact with microscopes without being afraid to break them. Also, all of our optics are glass, not plastic, with the exclusion of one of our models that was designed for a specific application.

Other children’s microscopes rely on mirrors to reflect light up to the stage where the specimen is for viewing. That’s not us. We have real optical light sources, not mirrors. We rely on LED bulbs for maximum illumination and long-lasting life. We also offer battery-operated and plug-in scopes depending on the application.

Our products put the power of real-life products in kids’ hands. Science is easier to understand when it is hands-on. In addition to building skills in science, using a microscope also helps kids with self-confidence and leadership. It makes them comfortable doing higher-level things.

What are your bestsellers?

Currently it’s our Duo Scope. The two-in-one microscope comes with about 50 science accessories, including prepared slides, blank slides that kids can set up themselves, and some little experiments they can do.

For a younger age group, our Duo Scope Starter Kit sells well. It comes with 40 different science accessories and a slightly lower price point.

Our Smartphone Inspector is popular, too. It clips onto mobile phones and tablets to turn them into really powerful microscopes – it magnifies up to 60 times. It “mobilizes” science. You can literally take it out of your pocket and use it, which makes it really appealing to families on the go.

How do you think My First Lab products will sell this fourth quarter?

Their holiday sales record has been really good in the past. This year, we expect them to be even better based on the expanded focus on STEM products all across the nation. A microscope is a special and unique gift; one that parents and grandparents are happy to give.

How do you monitor MAP?

A couple of years ago, we began taking a more proactive approach to supporting specialty toy stores. We weighed that against an understanding of the needs of consumers and online purchasing. As a result, we intentionally partnered with online distributors and sellers who understand the value, quality and price of our products. After that, monitoring MAP became easier. I must say we get a lot of support from our retailer customers. It’s not uncommon for them to point out prices they see on other websites.

When there is a violation, it’s very short-lived. We have processes in place to get them back up to MAP.

We also support retailers with photos they can use on their websites, in-store signage that we customize for every store, and other resources that support the concept of STEM and sales of My First Lab products.

At what shows do you exhibit? Will we see something new from C & A in 2018?

We do Toy Fair, ASTRA, and multiple other tradeshows across the U.S. each year.

We just debuted a concept for a new product, and we are taking preorders on it now. The STEM Starter Kit includes the Smartphone Inspector, along with 3-D slides of about 15 different specimens, including wool, crystals and insect legs. We know children, teens and adults are addicted to their phones. This kit is just another way to mobilize science, and grasp the connection between playing and learning.

Magnify a Student’s Love of Science at Home with My First Lab Microscopes

It’s All About The Optics! Imagine What A Kid Can Discover With A Smartphone Inspector or Award-Winning Duo-Scope™ Starter Kit! 

Manassas, VA (September 20, 2017) – Parents have a pretty good idea of back-to-school basics – new shoes, backpacks and school supplies. But did you add a home microscope to your list? If you have a child in elementary through high school in the house, a professional grade microscope at a budget-friendly price is a wonderful investment for the whole family. My First Lab’s array of fully assembled microscopes puts the focus on science, magnified!

My First Lab, a children’s educational product line of C&A Scientific, a lab product manufacturer and scientific supply company, has invested over 20 years of expertise to build a microscope that is inexpensive enough for a child, but possessing an image quality good enough for an adult. That’s not just them talking but consumers who gush on amazon after their microscopes arrive in the house.

I bought this for my nephew who is 13 years old and we couldn’t be more pleased and happy with it. He has been looking at plants, bugs, dirt and pretty much everything that comes to his mind and I have to admit that I’ve been playing with it too, looking into jewelry, some crystals and diamonds to see the quality of them… Highly recommended.”

As their expansive website (myfirstlab.com) boasts, “all of the microscopes in the My First Lab line use laboratory-quality glass, or specially-coated plastic optics, giving clarity comparable to our laboratory-grade microscopes.”

The microscope that started the in-home trend is the Duo-Scope™ –  the most popular microscope sold on amazon! My First Lab created a proprietary lens coating that greatly improves clarity, a feature normally reserved only for expensive, professional-grade microscopes. With up to 400x magnification power, it also is packed with 50 accessories, including five blank microscope slides, four prepared slides, blank slide labels, cover slips, plastic dropper, two Non-toxic Stains (Red & Blue), forceps, pack of lens paper, test tube, petri dish and teasing needle .

My First Lab went one step further and created the WOW Scope™, an appropriate name for the amazing things a child will uncover! Students from elementary to middle school will run home from the bus stop to get their hands on this microscope that views 3D objects up to 25x its size! Included in the kit are five specimens with slide carrying case and experiment guide. That calls for a wow.

Does your student carry a smartphone? My First Lab introduces the nifty Smartphone Inspector. Everywhere they go, so does a handy microscope that clips onto their iPhone or Android device. With this attachment, students can hover over anything that is in their path and view it up to 60X magnification.

 “Wow, this is an amazing and very affordable microscope,” typed one parent on the amazon review section after using the Smartphone Inspector. “Great for introducing young people to all the mysteries of everyday items. Comes fully assembled with batteries already installed. Just clip on over the camera eye on your smart phone, turn on the camera app, and you are ready to go! You have to pull up on the scope to adjust your view. You twist the top on the battery container to turn on low-level blue light, or bright LED light. Great microscope for the money!”

How does a parent or grandparent know which is the best model for their loved one? My First Lab explains that when purchasing a microscope, clarity, functionality, and price are some of the biggest considerations. The My First Lab line also incorporates many of the features and functions of more complex microscopes, such as multiple magnifications, LED illumination, and durable construction. Many of their scopes have unique features not found elsewhere, such as the dual-view system.

But most of all, they understand the family budget. As their website points out, “all microscopes in the My First Lab line are priced competitively. Education should not be expensive, and our products embody that motto.”

As holiday shopping lists are being made, consider wrapping up a white lab coat and clipboard with one of these four recommended science must-haves that foster skills for today’s homework and tomorrow’s college experiments!

Duo-Scope Starter Kit • Ages 8+ 

This powerful kit is based on the best-selling microscope, the Duo Scope, and is designed for elementary through middle school age students. It has some amazing features including a 10X eyepiece, Dual focus knob

top and bottom LED lights and more. In fact, it comes with a 40-piece accessory kit including Brine Shrimp Eggs Specimen Vial, Hatchery,  3 Empty Specimen Vials, 1 Yeast Specimen Vial and many more! The starter kit is battery operated, CE Certified and CPSIA approved. Nice!

My First Lab WOW Scope • Ages 9+ 

2016 Creative Child Product of the Year Award

This is the best Microscope for 3D objects!  You’ll hear the kids blurt out “wow” many times a day when they eye this microscope. The interchangeable pairs of 10X and 25X eyepieces allow for 20X and 50X total magnification. Students can view 3D objects up close! The top and bottom duo-LED illumination can be used for solid objects or prepared slides. Includes 5 specimens with slide carrying case and experiment guide.

Smartphone Inspector • Ages 12+ 

Got a phone? Become a scientist with this adaptable add-on for any smartphone or tablet with a built-in camera—voila! You have a compact, lightweight, high-resolution digital microscope for on-the go! Everyone can discover clues and examine evidence with ease as the Smartphone Inspector features 60X magnification, giving incredible clarity on everyday items kids encounter. Makes a wonderful holiday gift for big kids (teens to Dads) too!

ABOUT MY FIRST LAB

For over 20 years, this Manassas, VA based company has brought a fresh and innovative approach to the educational toy market. Designed with children first, the award-winning My First Lab™ products focus on the discovery and learning experience every step of the way. From microscopes, prepared slides, experiment kits, and real animal skeletons, they put high-quality, affordable products into the hands of young scientists. My First Lab is developed and manufactured by C&A Scientific, a family-owned company and leader in scientific and educational microscopes and laboratory accessories to organizations worldwide. Visit myfirstlab.com for more

CONTACT:

KidStuff Public Relations

Lisa Orman • 608-767-1102

Lisa@KidStuffPR.com