Mar 13, 2014

WonderWorks: magnifying glasses

 Let's play with tools that allow us to look more closely at the world around us.

Today's Topic: Magnify! 
a variety of magnifying glasses (interesting alternative: reading glasses!)
tiny things to examine (ideas:  feathers, sticks, flowers, shells, slides (old tech!), snowflake matching cards (or if it's actively snowing just get a sheet of black construction paper), big dictionary with tiny print, road atlas...)
2-liter plastic bottle + water or a plastic cup + plastic wrap + rubberband + water = magnifier
washable ink pads, scrap paper and wet wipes
Flat glass marbles


cover art You can use a magnifying glass / Blevins, Wiley

 What Kids Do: examine nature...

 Examine small print...

 Explore the room...
 Match tiny snowflakes to bigger snowflakes...
 examine slides (I explained what these were and how they're usually used)...
 Examined their fingerprints...
 Noticed that flat glass marbles magnify (even when I couldn't find the clear ones and they could only peek through the non-colored portions)...
 Tried the magnifying glass behind the slide (this magnifying glass also had a little light, so that helped him to see the picture more easily).
 read the book Detective Blue  by Steve Metzger
 made their own magnifier by cutting the bottom off of a small plastic cup, then covering the wider end (the lip of the cup) with clear plastic wrap, secured with a rubber band.  Then, they poured a small amount of water into the cup (covering the top of the plastic wrap and bowing the bottom surface out a bit) and looked through the (somewhat) magnified "lens."

Adult Challenge of the week:  Ask your child what they could change to get different results (and foster the idea of experimentation).

Hindsight Tip:  although we didn't have any 2-liter plastic bottles to cut lenses from, this would have been much easier than the plastic cup variation we tried.  Probably more effective too.

 Variations to try: 
if the weather is nice, take this activity outside and examine nature!
here's another homemade magnifier
try popping water balloons with a magnifying glass

Related Apps:
Shout Science! by Scott Dubois -- a free and very well-designed app that includes the story of Anton Von Leeuwenhoek, who built one of the earliest microscopes.

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