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Tools of Magnification

Author(s): Barbara Tharp, MS, and Nancy Moreno, PhD

Make a Magnifier

To begin exploring magnification, students will use a hand lens (magnifier) and then create their own magnifier using a single drop of water. This activity will give students an opportunity to discover some of the behaviors of light passing through convex lenses.

Direct students to observe each of several different items (newsprint, coin, etc.) that you have placed on a tray for each group. They should make their observations, first with the naked eye and then with a magnifier or hand lens. Encourage students to experiment with the distance between the lens and the object, and to discuss their observations. Ask, Did the items look different under the magnifier? Did you observe anything on any of the objects that you had never noticed before?

Next, students will make their own magnifier, as described on the slide above, using card stock, wax paper, and a drop of water. Instruct students to observe the newsprint through the wax paper window they have created. Students will find the size of the newsprint is unchanged when looking through the wax paper alone. Then tell students to use the dropper to place one drop of water in the center of the wax paper window and again observe the newsprint. Ask again, How does the newsprint appear? Students will indicate that newsprint is magnified by the drop of water.

Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: 5R25RR018605