Beacon Lesson Plan Library
Create Your Own Kaleidoscopes
DescriptionStudents research Sir David Brewster and his ideas on light. They put into practice one of his ideas by creating an inexpensive kaleidoscope using film canisters, microscope slides and beads, that teaches properties of optics.
ObjectivesThe student extends and refines knowledge of selected scientists and their accomplishments and recognizes their varied backgrounds, talents, interests, and goals.
Materials-Colored plastic tape
-3 microscope slides
Preparations1. Purchase beads, tape, sandpaper
2. Teacher can punch holes in ends of canisters and cut off the ends of canisters
3. Older students in high school can cut with a small saw
ProceduresThe lead in for this project could be that many toys have scientific explanations behind them. Kaleidoscopes are considered toys but there is a lot of science particularly, physics.
This is fun project. There should be some discussion of light,reflection and reflective surfaces. There should be discussion about reflection in mirrors before the kaleidoscopes are made. For children in third grade, it is just fun to construct the kaleidoscopes.
Background: (Share with students)
Kaleidoscopes were first invented in 1816 by a Scottish physicist, Sir David Brewster. He worked with optics and polarized light. We are going to look at one example of some of his research.
Kaleidoscopes are optical devices consisting of mirrors that reflect images of colored beads( or whatever is used in the tube) in a symmetrical geometric design through a viewer. The design is constantly changed by rotating the section of the tube that contains the loose beads. The name of the kaleidoscope comes from the Greek words, -kalos- meaning beautiful, -eidos- meaning form and -skopein- meaning to view.
The kaleidoscope been sold as a toy but it produces patterns that can be studied. The three mirrors are arranged at 45 degree angles and illustrate the properties of combined mirrors, which reflect the images over and over again in each mirror.
Place two mirrors at 90 degree angles and place an object in between the two mirrors. An image is formed in each mirror. Each image will be reflected in the other mirror, forming the appearance of four symmetrically placed objects. If the mirrors are placed at 60 degree angles, a hexagonally symmetrical pattern is formed ( by six regularly placed images.)
Have students look up the definitions of
1. Arrange the three microscope slides in a triangle with the long sides together. The three slides should resemble a prism. Secure the slides with plastic tape. Wrap the slides with the colored tape along the long edges. Cover one-end of the prism opening with a piece of plastic wrap; secure with tape.
2.Take one film canister and cut a peep hole for the eye, about 5 mm in diameter. Take the second film canister and saw off the end.
3. Use sand paper and smooth the edges of the large hole and the small hole on the canisters.
4. Slide the prism-shaped set-up into the canister with the peep hole. The end of the prism with the plastic wrap should be in the canister with large open end.
5. Slide the second canister onto the opposite end; make sure the prism end with the plastic wrap is in this canister.
6. Drop some medium size, colored beads into the end of the canister that has the plastic covered end of the prism showing. The beads should rest on the plastic wrap. Do not put in too many. The beads should be free to move easily about in the opening when plastic wrap is placed over the large opening on the canister.
7. Secure the plastic wrap with tape.
See Attached file for drawing of slides taped together.
8. Colored plastic wrap may be used to secure (to keep the canisters from coming apart) and to decorate the outside of the tube formed when the two canisters are taped together.
Hold the tube at the eye and rotate the whole tube. The colored beads will fall into different positions and an endless variety of images may be observed. Ask the students to describe why the various patterns are formed.
(The explanation is the multiple reflections of the colored beads in the three mirrors. Each mirror reflects the patterns at least two times. The three mirrors are set at an angle of sixty degrees from one another and produce the multiple images.)
9. Assign students to research Sir David Brewster and discuss his work,as a physicist noted for his work in optics and polarized light. Students should find five major facts about Sir Daivd Brewster as they relate to the kaleidoscope. The Florida Writes Rubric can be used to score the paragraphs. This rubric should be shared with students prior to the actual writing of the paper
Assessments1. Assign students to research Sir David Brewster and discuss his work,as a physicist noted for his work in optics and polarized light. Students should find five major facts about Sir Daivd Brewster as they relate to the kaleidoscope. The Florida Writes Rubric can be used to score the paragraphs. This rubric should be shared with students prior to the actual writing of the paper.
Additionally students can complete the following as a formative assessment to see how well they were listening and paying attention to the discussion.
Students are asked to write an explanation of what occured when the students looked into the kaleidoscopes.
(A class discussion about light and reflection is presented before making the kaleidoscopes) Students who do not indicate understanding of what is happening in the kaleidoscope should have an opportunity to discuss and relearn the concept.
ExtensionsAfter viewing the kaleidoscopes made by all the students (not all students will not choose the same color beads to go in their kaleidoscopes and different colors will be combined) have the students create stories. I called these stories -Mirror Reflections- . Students make up a story around what they dreamed when they looked into the kaleidoscope. I instruct them to be fascinated with things that are luminous, radiating with light or glowing with color.
Attached FilesThe file contains directions for making the kaleidoscopes. It also contains drawings explaining the phenomona that occured. File Extension: pdf
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