Sometimes the best science lessons happen when you are flexible enough to let them. Take, for instance, the physics lesson that took place while we were studying insects.
My daughter and I decided to take advantage of a beautiful sunny day and study insects outside in the backyard. We spent part of the morning capturing different kids of bugs and viewing them through a microscope. When we took a break for lunch on the patio, my daughter noticed a bee on one of the flowers nearby. She grabbed the magnifying glass to get a closer look. She paused just for a second to let the bee move to a different flower, then “Ouch!”
I thought the bee had stung her, but instead the magnifying glass did. When she paused, she held the glass just right and the sunlight came through and focused right on her leg and burned her skin. It even made a red mark. That caused her to be very curious.
How does that happen?
How hot can it get?
Can it burn other things?
How hot can that beam of light get?
We grabbed the meat thermometer from the grill and tested.
Our reading was over 300 degrees Fahrenheit!
Next, my daughter tried to burn paper. She didn’t get a full fire, but she did get a dark brown burn mark on the paper. With a little more patience, I think she would have gotten fire.
This little experiment led to questions about light and heat. We found a cool video that explained the science behind magnifying glasses and sunlight HERE at ScienceFriday.com. A little more googling gave us great answers and more questions.
I love little science detours. My theory is that taking a lot of them promotes the love of learning and creativity. If we can instill those in our children, the world is theirs!
Ready to try this experiment with your kids? Try different sizes of magnifying glasses. Try burning paper of different colors. Why would that make a difference? Try burning leaves or wood. Time and record your attempts. Compare. Use a different type of thermometer to measure the heat of the focused light. (Hint: You can possibly measure a higher temp than we did since the burning point of paper is around 450 degrees!)
Hands On Homeschooling, Science is written by science lover and homeschool mom, Marci.