Today we are going to learn how to make a microscope using a few recycled items and water!
One of the traits I believe parents should foster in their kids is a DIY mindset. I believe kids should have confidence in understanding how things work and use their knowledge to solve problems. Making your own tools and materials is a wonderful way to nurture this trait and gives kids a hands-on understanding of the components that make up some everyday items.
This post has been sponsored by Dover Publications
This project is from The Science of Light one of three books in the Tabletop Scientist series by Dover Publications. Dover Publications has sponsored this post and I’ve had a wonderful time exploring their science book collection for kids. The Tabletop Scientist series is perfect for school age kids who love to know how things work, they cover projects like homemade hydraulics, a barometer, wind turbines and more. All the projects use recycled and easy to find materials. Psst…keep these on the radar when science fair season rolls around…
Part of the fun with today’s project is not only seeing things magnified but learning how a microscope actually works and why. So let’s start exploring!
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How to Make a Microscope with Water
- Water bottle
- Recycled plastic lids
- Magnifying glass
- Double sided tape
- Specimens Collect dead bugs and small flowers from your yard
- Pipette or paintbrush
Make the Viewer
- Step One Cut a plastic water bottle in half
- Step Two Sketch two notches opposite each other on the bottle
- Step Three Add two deeper notches opposite each other in between the first notches
- Step Four Cut out notches with scissors
Make the Slides
- Step One Cut a flat recycled plastic lid into strips to make “slides”
- Step Two Place a strip of double sided tape at the center of a slide
- Step Three Gently press a specimen onto the tape (a pair of tweezers will come in handy for this)
- Step Four Save one blank slide to make your water drop lens
Use the Microscope
- Step One Place a slide on the lower notches
- Step Two Place a blank slide on upper notches
- Step Three Place a large drop of water on the blank slide; the water drop enlarges the image.
- Step Four Use a magnifying glass to further enlarge the image
- The lower notches should be an inch or so below the upper notch both for ease of use and to help magnify items.
- Be sure to do this project in a well lit space, the light that underneath the specimen is crucial for viewing the magnified image.
- Have fun finding items to magnify! Dead bugs will now become treasures once your kids can see them up close!
How a Microscope Works
Now let’s take look at what happens inside a microscope.
First you will need to know that there are two types of lenses: convex and concave. A convex lens is thicker in the middle and magnifies things. Concave lenses are thinner at the middle and make things viewed under them smaller. A microcope is made using two convex lenses, one in the eyepiece and one closer to the specimen being viewed. In our DIY microscope we use a drop of water as a lens. It’s convex shape magnifies items viewed through it. To magnify the image even more, we use a magnifying glass which acts as the eyepiece lens.
Experiment with moving the magnifying glass closer to and farther from the water drop lens. Does the image get more or less magnified? Also take a look at the first magnification using only water. Can you tell how much more the image is magnified? Hint: it helps to have a large specimen to view so that you can see part of it magnified and part of it at its normal size.
Feeling empowered after learning how to make a microscope? I love turning everyday objects into something magical and useful and this simple science project does both. Plus it was wonderful excuse to collect tiny little plants and bugs from around the house and yard.