How to Make a Kaleidoscope for a Science Project

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In 1817, David Brewster patented the kaleidoscope, which uses mirrors and shiny objects to repeatedly reflect rays of light and create artistic imagery. Brewster intended on using it as a scientific tool to highlight these properties of light. Instead, the kaleidoscope took off as a classic toy, dazzling children for more than 100 years. Following a few simple steps, you can create a basic version of the kaleidoscope for your science project. When finished, hold your project up to the light and view the art of light.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towel tube
  • Transparency sheet
  • Craft beads
  • Shiny confetti
  • Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Plastic snack bag
  • Fold the transparency sheet twice lengthwise, creating a triangular prism. Make sure to fold the prism small enough so it fits into the paper towel roll.

  • Slide the triangular transparency sheet into the paper towel roll. Adjust so the prism does not stick out of either end. Trim with scissors if necessary.

  • Trace a circle on the sheet of cardboard. Use one end of the paper towel roll as a guide for your circle. Using a pencil, poke a hole in the center of the circle.

  • Cut out the circle. Tape it to one end of the paper towel roll.

  • Insert plastic beads and shiny confetti into the plastic snack bag. Place the snack bag on the uncovered end of the paper towel roll. Arrange shiny objects so that they fall into the hole just a bit, creating a sort of pouch of beads and confetti in the end of the tube.

  • Lay wax paper over the plastic bag. Pull bag and wax paper tight over the edges so they lay flat over the top of the hole, with the pouch laying slightly inside of the hole. Wrap a rubber band around both to hold them tightly in place. Trim excess.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may want to substitute tape for the rubber band if the paper towel roll begins to collapse.

References

  • Photo Credit kaleidoscope image by HL from Fotolia.com
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