What is a magnifying glass?
How does it work?
Magnifying glasses are special tools make things look bigger. This helps you see objects that are small or tiny details that you don’t normally see.
Look at the yarn and pipe cleaner through a magnifying glass and see for yourself:
What new details do you see?
To try out magnifying glasses at home, we set up a magnification lab with yarn, pipe cleaners, cotton swabs, cotton balls, craft sticks, and magnifying glasses.
Peas and Pie discovered that they can even magnify their faces!
So how does a magnifying glass do it?
To understand how a magnifying glass makes everything look so big, you need to know these words: convex, concave, and refraction.
Convex means curving outward, like this upside down bowl:
And concave means curving inward, like a regular bowl:
Refraction is what it’s called when light bends when it moves from one substance (like air) to another (like glass or water). The light bends because its speed changes. When light moves from air to glass or water, it slows down.
Putting it all together, a magnifying glass uses convex lenses to bend the light in just the right way to focus the light and form a new image that looks bigger than the real thing.
Convex lenses can be found in microscopes that make very small things appear big enough to see them. This is how we can see tiny cells in your body.
Convex lenses are also used and binoculars and telescopes that make things that are very far away look closer. This is how scientists can study the planets that are so far away.
Concave lenses bend the light differently so that objects appear smaller. These kind of lenses are useful in eyeglasses, cameras, flashlights, and peepholes.
Make your own magnifying glass!
If you don’t have a magnifying glass at home, you can make your own with only 2 materials: a glass and water.
We made our own magnifying glass with this clear bowl of water. We used it to magnify this picture.
Look at how it makes the picture held behind it look so much bigger.
This easy homemade magnifying glass will also work on objects you stick inside of it, like this paintbrush or your finger.
Just like a magnifying glass, this bowl of water magnifies objects because of refraction. The light bends as it passes through the water making the object appear bigger.
As you can see, there are so many ways to explore with magnifying glasses. What will you discover at home?
Keep innovating at home with the free How to Build a Robot from A to Z digital picture book and printable Robot Building Kit. Build a cutout paper robot as you follow along with Rosie’s story about her robot named Index.