Applied Science - Physics (5B)

PROBLEM: How does a kaleidoscope work?


PROCEDURE: Materials: ruler, tape, silver mylar sheets, 3/4 oz plastic cup, toilet paper tube, paper towels

  1. Measure 3 pieces of 2.5 cm by 10 cm piece of silver mylar that your teacher will provide. If you have a different size tube consult your teacher. Join the 3 pieces of silver mylar into a triangular prism. MAKE SURE YOU PUT THE SHINY SURFACE INSIDE. Tape the triangular prism together. (see picture below)
  2. Put a small number of colored beads or any other materials in the plastic cup. Record what you put in your kaleidoscope. Position the cup in one end of the toilet paper tube. Put the lid on the cup.
  3. Wrap the triangular prism in paper towel (you may need 2 or 3 sheets depending on the thickness of the towel) so it fits snugly in the tube.

Point the tube toward a light source and rotate the plastic cup as you look through the open end of the tube. You have just made a kaleidoscope. List what and how many items you put in your kaleidoscope.

LOOK AT YOUR KALEIDOSCOPE. Draw what you see in the tube without turning it. How many sections is it divided into?

Look through your partners kaleidoscope. Is it different from yours? How? 

CONCLUSION: Why do you think a kaleidoscope works. Explain?

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