A magnifying glass provides a fun way to explore something new, allowing us to see objects in more detail. They are the perfect tool to use on a minibeast hunt, or for studying new plant specimens and biological drawings. Sometimes it can be a bit difficult to get hold of a proper magnifying glass, and smaller children can find them difficult to hold and use. So if you need a simple, quick fix then this magnifier activity could be the solution.
What you will need:
- A clean, cylindrical glass jar – with lid
- Something to look at
How to make your magnifying glass:
- Firstly, remove the label from your jar. The smoother the glass the better.
- Fill your jar with cold water, right to the top and screw on the lid.
- Place your jar vertically in front of objects.
- With younger children, experiment by placing the jar in front of objects and asking questions to see if they understand objects are getting bigger when viewed through the glass.
- With older children, explore the process of magnification and how it works – a chance to explore physics and the refraction of light (explanation below).
- You could make a note of the details that you see, or draw the objects now that you have a clearer view.
How it works:
- The water and the jar act as a convex lens.
- As parallel rays of light hit the lens, it bends (refracts) the light inwards towards the eye so that they come together (converge) to create a virtual image on the retina (back of the eye).
- This in a sense “tricks” the eye – it traces the light rays back in straight lines, as if they had not been bent, to find the focal point of the virtual image; which is further away than the original object.
- In other words, you have tricked the eye into thinking it is seeing a larger object, that has a focal point from further away.
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