Magazine article Technology and Children

Hooke-D on Magnification

Magazine article Technology and Children

Hooke-D on Magnification

Article excerpt

When we think of invisibility, it's likely that superheroes and tar Trek are the first examples that come to mind. There's an unseen world all around us, however, that humans have been discovering for centuries through the use of technology.

One of the earliest scientists to use a microscope for research was English physicist Robert Hooke. He was also the person who coined the term "cell" to describe the individual units of living things. Robert Hooke used his observations at the microscope not only to reveal that which had never been seen before, but also to reflect on how nature's elegant engineering designs might be applied to human-made artifacts. When studying bee stings and the hairs on stinging nettles, for instance, he considered how their structures and processes could be utilized for transferring liquids into humans. This would later lead to the introduction of the hypodermic needle. Hooke also invented the first hygrometer, an instrument used to measure atmospheric humidity, as the result of a microscopic study of hair from a goat's beard! (Smith, 2000)

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overview

Students will learn about magnification and how a magnifying glass works. They will examine a variety of different objects, both with and without a magnifying glass, and compare what they observe. Students will learn that scientists use tools, such as a magnifying glass and microscopes, to examine small objects and tiny organisms.

selected ITEA/STL standards addressed

1A: The natural world and human-made world are different.

1B: All people use tools and techniques to help them do things.

2K: Tools and machines extend human capabilities.

materials

* Magnifying glasses (one per student or group as available)

* Blank paper or handouts (see "Suggestions for Implementation and Extension")

* Common objects of various sizes and shapes, such as coins, leaves, sponges, fabrics, newspaper, etc.

introducing the activity

Ask your students how people use their senses to examine things in their environment. Discuss the advantages and limitations of each of the five senses. Then, tell the students that today you'll be talking about sight and how technology can be used to enhance this sense.

Continue the discussion by posing the following questions:

* What are some things you have trouble seeing and why? (Wait for a student to suggest that something might be too small.)

* How small would an object have to be before you couldn't see it any more? Can you think of any examples? (Examples might include cells, bacteria, etc.)

* What can you do if an object is too small for you to see?

* Do you know of any tool that might help you see objects more easily?

As they discuss these questions, your students' suggestions will likely include glasses, magnifiers, binoculars, microscopes, and telescopes. At this point, distribute the magnifying glasses along with some paper or the handouts you prepared in advance (see "Suggestions for Implementation and Extension"). As you're doing this, ask if anyone has used one or knows anything about the device you've just handed them. Ask students to look through the magnifying glass at each other and at objects around the classroom to get a feel for how this tool works.

Next, present your students with several of the suggested (or other) common objects and have them observe these items closely and draw what they see. When looking at objects through a magnifying glass, students will discover and examine small details that they may not otherwise be able to see. …

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