August 15, 2010

magnify it

Welcome to the August Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.

The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by Science@home is for anyone, because we are all teachers and learners all the time. This month our theme is "Science", because this is National Science Week. Science includes all sorts of practical activities and exploration and we have lots of different ideas in this carnival. Check out the links at the bottom to find some other great posts on science.

using magnifiers with children Photo by Olibac

Exploring with magnifiers can open up a fascinating new world to children.  Looking at things with a magnifier also encourages children to look at objects closely and notice the details.  This is an important skill for scientists (for example, it is essential in identifying plants and animals).

How does a magnifying glass work?
I want to briefly describe how a magnifier works.  I’m not going to go into detail about types of microscopes, how a microscope works (apart from saying that they contain lens to magnify objects) or about how to use the microscope.

A lens is a curved shape you can see through.  A magnifying lens is a convex lens that makes close objects appear larger.  Both sides of the lens curve outward and it is thicker in the middle than on the edges. 

When the magnifying lens is placed on top of an object it appears the same size.  If you raise the lens the object appears larger.  If you raise the lens too close to your eye the object will appear blurry. 

When looking at objects through a magnifier, since things appear larger, you can discover small details that you might not otherwise be able to see.

To explain how to use the magnifier and get your child motivated to try play with magnifying lens, you might like to watch this video from Sid the Science Kid.

Some things to try with magnifiers or microscopes

While using the magnifying glass or microscope discuss with your child
Why do objects look different when magnified?
What can you see with the magnifying lens that you did not see before?  Do you see any details like lines, dots, shapes or textures?  Did you know those details were there before? 

mark out a small area of ground and have your child use a magnifying glass to explore the area.  Look at the grass or plants, the dirt, the rocks and so on.  Are their any animals?  Now try a small area of a tree trunk or a dead log, or look under a rock (with care that no nasties run out at you as you lift up the rock).

play a game of mystery pictures.  You use the zoom on your camera to take close up pictures of everyday objects.  Then have you child use the magnifying glass to hunt for and identify the objects shown in the pictures.  See the Mystery Picture Challenge for a sample.

use and ink pad to stamp your fingerprints and look at the details.  If you have a few children, turn it into a detective game by having the detective leave the room while one child makes a fingerprint.  The detective should then examine everyone’s fingers to find who left the fingerprint.

budding detectives might also like to try and make a microdot.  Use the computer to make a large black dot.  Type a message in white on the dot then shrink it down so the writing is too small to read with the naked eye and print it out.  Read the message with a magnifier.

when you lose something small (like the back of an earring)have your child use the magnifying glass to find it for you.

grow some mould and look at it with the magnifying glass (or microscope – but please look into appropriate safety procedures because mould can make you sick)

look at parts of your body up close – a strand of your hair, your skin, your fingernail

place some sugar and salt on black cardboard (keep them seperate) and look at the crystals up close.  Do they look the same up close?  What is the difference between sugar and salt?  Can you find any other powders or crystals to explore (keep them non-toxic)?

look at sand from the beach.  Collect sand from different parts of the beach.  Does it look the same?  Collect sand from different beaches.  Do they look the same?

find more ideas of things to explore at An Introduction to Microscopy from Microscopy UK and at this page of Microscopy ideas.  For many of the ideas you will need a microscope and be able to prepare slides.

Explore further
use some other types of magnifiers such as binoculars or telescopes

see a variety of interesting specimens at the Exploratorium Microscope Imaging Station

try and identify the specimens at the Virtual Electron Microscope

explore how the amount of magnification changes what you can see at the Magnification Module

see pictures of the universe from the very large to the very small at Secret Worlds: The Universe Within

Visit Science@home to find out more about the Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival. Teach/Learn
Please take the time to visit the other participants and check out their posts on "Science."

  • CatWay at Adventures With Kids is Magnifying It by playing with magnifying glasses and microscopes to help your child explore the world of the very small.
  • Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now was never very scientifically minded. One year, though, we participated in a homeschool co-op science fair. Two months later we moved and didn’t have the opportunity to participate in a science fair again. But that experience was a great learning opportunity – and, yes, it actually was fun!
  • Monique from Your Cheeky Monkey is commencing on the road of learning about the Human Body (both inside and out). Find out a few of the things we are doing to learn about our amazing bodies!
  • SMMART Ideas shows how you can enjoy making these sticky spiderwebs with your child, learn how spiders actually make their webs and other arachna-facts!
  • Amanda B at HomeAge says that science is not her forte, but for young children the world is one big science lesson. How do we answer all their questions so that these answers are meanings rather than facts?
  • Narelle from A Bunch of Keys has some simple kid friendly activities to do to help attract birds into the garden.
  • Deb from Science@home's daughter has decided to be an alienpologist, and she's reflecting on all the different ways kids are exposed to ideas and fun activities.
  • Staci at Teaching Money to Kids has a simple sorting activity that kids can do anywhere to get them to observe and compare.
  • Ash from Mm is for Me have been running their own family Science Week with lots of fun activities.
Thanks for visiting our carnival, we hope you find some interesting new blogs.


amandab said...

That video made me want to play with the magnifying glass that is ALWAYS left lying around in our house. It is definitely more popular than the USB microscope we bought (well, with Princess anyway!).

I think we might try the fingerprinting thing the next time I hear someone grumbling ... magnifying glass AND ink is sure to make someone's day :)

Debi said...

We love taking our magnifying glass on nature walks. The 5 1/2-year-old uses his to look at ants on tree bark or other bugs he might find. Great post!

Ash said...

Guess what we're off to buy today?! After reading this post we need to go and get a magnifying glass so we can have fun with all these ideas!

Narelle said...

Funnily enough, I was just saying the other day that we should get a magnifying glass to have a closer look at these catepillars we are watching grow! I will definitely be getting one now and using some of your ideas - thanks!

Your Cheeky Monkey said...

Great post, I must get some magnifying glasses for the boys, now after reading your post I think playing with them would keep them occupied for hours!

Deb said...

What great ideas! We have a magnifying glass, but usually it's used to make rainbows. The one in the top of the bug catcher is very popular for looking in.

My husband just bought me a USB microscope and I haven't really played with it yet, I'll have to try it out with some of these activities.

Deb Chitwood @ Living Montessori Now said...

Wonderful ideas! And thanks for sharing all the great links and video. I always loved using magnifying glasses with children – especially when we marked off a small area outdoors with a rope first.

Teaching Money to Kids said...

We already have a magnifying glass on Miss loves xmas list. I think we are going to go with the basic one, instead of the computer one, so we can take it around with us.

SMMART ideas said...

I LOVE that you included a video for Sid The Science Kid...way to bring on the motivation. GREAT POST! Thanks for the magnifying reminder!

Louise said...

Thanks for all the ideas - but how do you make the microdot using the computer - I am a bit of a beginner with computers, and have had a go but can't work it out.

CatWay said...

Louise, I am going to do a seperate post about the microdot as it seems a bit much to explain in a comment. I have perhaps misled you a little reading over this post as you can't make a microdot as small as a full stop (I'm sure that's what you are imagining) because of limitations of the computer and printer. But you can make one containing text too small to read without a magnifier.
I have only ever done it in a graphics program, Photoshop Elements. I tried yesterday in MS Word and agree that it is quite frustrating.

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Madason said...

I was doing homework and this Sid the Science Kid video really helped me out about what I would look at through a magnifine glass.Although I am 10 years old

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