Make a Water Magnifier – Potty Science Club

We hope you had a go at our last experiment – How did you get on? Did you manage to float a paperclip? In this session we will be continuing our experiments with water.

In the Natural Science Gallery at The Potteries Museum we have some splendid exhibits of large fishes. But sometimes fishes can look even larger when alive in the water.  This is because fish and other aquatic animals live in a totally different environment than we do and the optical properties of water are different than in those of air.

The optical properties of Water can make things look bigger and to check this out we will be conducting a small experiment to make a magnifying glass using water and an empty jar!

You will need for this experiment:

  1. An empty clean jar with no labels on it
  2. A spoon
  3. A jug of clean water
  4. A piece of kitchen paper
  5. A two pence coin

First, Place the coin in the middle of the kitchen paper.

Then, take the top off the jar and place it open end down over the coin. You can see the coin through the upturned bottom of the jar

Finally, Take the spoon and gently spoon water onto the upturned bottom of the jar. Have a look through the jar again. Does the coin look larger?

So why does this happen? The surface of a water droplet is curved (explained by our previous episode about water tension!) so a magnifying convex lens is created. The smaller the droplet, the bigger the curve and greater the magnification.

You can try using different objects under your water magnifier. Give it a go and don’t get too wet!

Until next time, keep experimenting!

By Rob Gagliano, Casual Learning Development Leader and Natural Science Collections Volunteer

Written by museumvolunteers - Modified by Glenn Roadley (Curator, Natural Sciences)

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