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Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, Barbara Tharp, MS, Deanne Erdmann, MS, Sonia Rahmati Clayton, PhD, and James Denk, MA.

Make a Water Drop Magnifier

Part 1: Lenses & Magnification

1. Hold up a magnifier or hand lens. Ask students, How many of you have used something like this? What can it be used for? (Lenses can be used to focus light on a single point, and also are used in eyeglasses, cameras, etc.) Tell students they will be using hand lenses to make observations. 

2. Distribute materials to each team of students. Direct students to observe each item on the tray using the hand lens. Ask, Did you observe anything on any of the objects that you have never noticed before? Let students report their observations informally. 

3. Tell students to use a hand lens to observe the newsprint and draw what they observe on their student sheets. 

4. Next, have each student make a magnifier following the steps shown on the slide.

5. Direct students to observe the newsprint through the wax paper window. Next, have students place a single drop of water (using a pipette or dropper) in the center of the wax paper window, and observe the newsprint through the water drop. Have students draw their observations as before. 

6. Discuss students’ observations. Ask, What happened when you looked at the newsprint through wax paper? (no change) Through the water drop? (print was magnified) Are there any similarities between the magnifier and the drop? (clear, transparent, curved surface) Help students understand that the magnifier lens and the water drop shared similar characteristics. If students need additional clarification, have them observe the newsprint through a glass or plastic slide, which is flat. The slide will not magnify (or shrink) the image, because the surface is not curved. 

Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: 5R25RR018605