How can you call “Land Ho!” if you don’t have a telescope to see the land? Pirate science experiments give a learning anchor to so much content! Make a telescope as an authentic way to work on lenses, refraction, and wave behavior. This is Part 6 of our pirate science activities: here’s a harbor for ye to try invisible ink, make your own compass, foil boats, saltwater to freshwater, and map making.
Teaching with a theme works well with organizing science lessons into stations. When you don’t have enough resources for every group of children to do the same lab, stations can be the solution. Using stations is also a great differentiation technique. See Part 1 for my tips for organizing station labs.
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Make a telescope instructions
- Before purchasing lenses, I measured the diameter of the opening on my paper towel tube and I got 38 mm.
- Roll up your cardstock or construction paper tightly. Insert into the paper towel tube and release it so it just fits. Tape the cardstock. Tape the 150 mm lens to the end of the cardstock tube. (I used washi tape for these photos so you can see, but it is probably better to use clear tape.)
- Tape the 500 mm lens to the end of the paper towel tube.
- Insert the cardstock tube into the paper towel tube. Slide the tube back and forth while looking through the smaller lens at something in the distance. What does the image look like? What is the total length of your telescope when the object is in focus? Does this length change when you look at another object at a different distance? Is the length the same for different people?
Try using the telescope lens equations to find what length tube and focal length lenses you could use to make a more powerful telescope.
- Lens, 38 mm diameter, 150 mm focal length
- Lens, 38 mm diameter, 500 mm focal length
- Paper towel tube
- Card stock or construction paper
- (Optional) longer tube, such as wrapping paper, and lenses to fit
- Pencils, pens
- Meter stick, tape measure, ruler
- paper or notebook for recording results, pen
- (Optional) Optics bench for studying lenses
- (Optional) Mini Mag Lite
What is the science?
Content: waves, optics, light reflecting from objects, light transmitted through materials, focal length
Lenses are in our eyes and are used for cameras, projectors, microscopes and telescopes. Light rays from an object pass through a lens and are bent. An image is formed at the spot where these rays converge. A really good experiment to help understand this is to use a burning candle (or a mini Mag-Lite with the top removed, so it looks like a candle) and a lens and piece of paper to “catch” the image.
- The Astronomical Telescope from Hyperphysics at Georgia State
- Build a simple and Galilean telescope from Space.com
- Bending light with refraction from Physics 4 Kids
- Pirates unit study from The Home School Mom
- Optics Discovery Kit from Edmund Optics
- Jake and the Neverland Pirates birthday party from Frugal Foodie Mama
- Avast me hearties from Lawrence Hall of Science
- September 19: Talk like a pirate from Hobsess blog
- Captain Hook costume from Inspired by Familia
- Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge from NC Maritime Museums
Let’s talk story
Me mateys Kelly and Jen love swashbucklers as much as I do. This is the sixth in a series of science ideas for pirate theme we put together. Here’s some of our pirate inspiration: Treasure Island, Peter Pan, Pirates of Penzance, Pirates of the Carribean, The Pirate Queen, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
In North Carolina, Blackbeard be “our” pirate (other states claim the lad, too!) Along with science, you can tie pirates to social studies. Other famous pirates: Barbarossa, Thomas Cavendish, Sir Francis Drake, Charlotte de Berry, Sir Henry Morgan, Black Bart, Stede Bonnet, Captain Kidd, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Jean Lafitte, and Grace O’Malley.
I’ll be looking for comments below, or contact me at lisa [at] thecasabouquet[dot]com.