Thursday, June 20, 2013

Burning Wood with a Magnifying Glass

By Deborah Pace Rowley

What elementary age boy does not go crazy at the thought of burning something with a magnifying glass? Or girl for that matter!

Harness that enthusiasm in a safe and productive way and create a super simple science experiment at the same time. At summer camp this year, we cut a small branch into circles and drilled a hole in one end.

Then we gave each student their own wood medallion and a magnifying glass and had them sit in the sun. It is challenging at first to focus the sun's rays. You need to get a small focused circle of light to shine on the piece of wood. But once you get the hang of it, you can burn your initials into the wood pretty quickly.

Everyone got excited about trying this project and we talked about the power that can come from a single ray of sun. This led to a discussion about sunburns and sunscreen as well as solar panels and solar energy.

After each student had burned their initials into the wood, they were able to string their medallion on a piece of yarn and add some UV sensitive beads to finish up the necklace. It was a great take-home camp project and lots of fun!

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