Most microscopes have a light placed below the slide or object you're viewing, so the light passes upward through it. The item has to be translucent enough for the light to penetrate it. Obviously, this is useless for the study of items such as mammal bones and other items your students will discover in the Owl Pellet Experiment.
With a dissecting scope, the light reflects off the surface of the specimen, so the object looks much more three-dimensional. Dissecting scopes are also sometimes referred to as stereoscopic or binocular dissecting microscopes.
Beyond providing a way to look at specimens, the use of a microscope offers students a study in equipment use, care, and storage. Use them to practice depth of focus with the specimen, or practice moving the specimen and focusing on different structures.
Be sure to offer your class a few rules in microscope care. First of all, be gentle every time you use a microscope. They are very delicate--and expensive! If any water from your sample gets onto any part of the microscope, wipe it off immediately. Students should carry a microscope properly by putting one hand underneath the stage. Hold the arm of it with the other hand. Also, teach students to always use the coarse adjustment with the microscope on lowest power. This makes it easier to focus on the specimen and keeps from damaging the microscope.
A dissecting scope offers versatility for the classroom and beyond. Its large surface allows for the study of larger objects like the ones you'll be using. The image is magnified up to 20X and is not distorted. Genesis, Inc. offers a Multi-scope that is sturdy enough to use in any classroom setting.