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SCIENCE EXPEIMENTS USING MIRRORS

SCIENCE EXPEIMENTS USING MIRRORS

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MIRRORS
FINDING OUT ABOUT THE PROPERTIES OF LIGHT
BERNIE ZUBROWSKI
ILLUSTRATED BY ROY DOTYA BOSTON CHILDREN’S MUSEUM ACTIVITY BOOK 
 
INTRODUCTION
The first mirror was probably a pool of water. A Greek myth tells the story of ahandsome young man named Narcissus, who grew so fond of his own reflection that hefell into the water and drowned.When you want to look at yourself in a mirror, you probably head for the nearest bathroom. Maybe you carry a pocket-sized mirror around with you or have a mirror hanging in your bedroom or on the door of your locker at school. Although these areamong the more familiar kinds of mirrors, other shiny surfaces can produce the sameeffects as these mirrors.When you walk down the street, do you ever stop to check out your reflection in thelarge windows of stores or office buildings? Depending on the way light strikes the glass,you can often see a clear reflection in these windows, even if the glass is tinted.If you look down at the sidewalk, you may also see light reflecting off these windowsonto the pavement. These patches of light form many interesting and beautiful shapes.Mirror like surfaces can be found in the country as well as in the city. Just as a puddleof water in the city may reflect a skyscraper, lakes and ponds in the country may reflectthe trees and sky. When the wind or a passing boat makes waves on the surface of thewater, the reflected images are distorted into patterns that can be both strange and lovely.As you continue looking around, you will see many examples of both natural andman-made mirrors. In your home, for instance, you will notice that objects ranging fromdishes to doorknobs can produce mirror-like reflections. No one knows when people first started using shiny materials as mirrors because ithappened before writing was invented. However, the oldest mirror was uncovered inEgypt. It is made of selenite, a mineral with a shiny surface, and it dates back to 4500
B
.
C
.
 
Bronze, a metal that is still used to make plaques and statues, may also have beenused for mirrors thousands of years ago.The Romans were the first to produce glass mirrors in large quantities. People from allclasses of society probably used them. Glass mirrors are different from metal mirrors.While older mirrors were metal having a very shiny surface, glass mirrors were and aresheets of glass having a shiny metallic coating.Once mirrors with a metallic backing could be produced in large quantities, they became quite popular. They began to be used not only for grooming, as the early mirrorswere, but also for decoration and amusement. In sixteenth-century France, Catherine deMedici built a large room that had 119 glass mirrors in it. Another very wealthy personconstructed a mirrored maze that is still on exhibit in Lucerne. Switzerland. The manyreflections in the mirrors are so confusing that you need a map to find your way out of themaze!Today’s artists and builders continue to use mirrors to produce special effects. In a passenger terminal at Boston’s Logan Airport, there is a long wall made of many mirrors placed at different angles. As people rush by, they see many images of themselves inlively, moving patterns.Mirrors also serve practical purposes. They are used in many scientific instruments.Your dentist uses a tiny mirror to check your teeth for cavities. Some cameras contain
 
small mirrors that help the photographer compose a picture before shooting. Gianttelescopes such as the one on Mount Palomar in California or the Hubble space telescopehave huge mirrors that enable astronomers to observe distant stars. Studying mirrors alsohelps scientists understand the basic properties of light.Playing around with mirrors gives you the opportunity to be both an artist and ascientist. You can arrange mirrors in special ways to create effects pleasing to the eye.You can also use them to carry out scientific investigations.You may be surprised to find that almost all the materials you will need to constructthe sculptures and perform the experiments in this book are already around the house.Several mirrors, blocks of wood, and pieces of cardboard, plus a flashlight or two, are the basic equipment required to try the projects in this book.You can purchase a variety of mirrors in the cosmetics or automobile supplies sectionof large department stores. Look in the school supplies section for mirrors made to hangin student lockers. A good type to use is made of a piece of very flexible plastic that can be removed from its frame and bent into a variety of shapes.The activities in this book build upon each other. If you do them in sequence, you will be able to understand what comes next. Keep in mind that some projects require more patience and perseverance than others. What looks like a simple challenge may turn outto require a lot of very careful work. So if you don’t achieve the expected result rightaway, keep working at it. Try different approaches until you get the results you want.SAFETY NOTE:When building the models and doing the experiments in this book, it is safer to work with plastic mirrors. If you do use glass, make sure there are no exposed, sharp edges. Donot use cracked mirrors.
PLANE MIRRORS
The common mirrors you find in a bathroom or the ones you carry in your pocket are pieces of glass with a shiny metal backing. The surfaces are flat.All mirrors that are flat and shiny are called
 plane mirrors.
When they are placed nextto each other, many kinds of interesting Images occur.
REFLECTIONS IN 2 MIRRORS
Look into a mirror at yourself and the room around you. You can see straight ahead or at different angles, but beyond this, you are limited in what you can do with a single

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