Looking Closer: Using a Hand Lens

Whether looking at fiddlehead ferns, aphids or nitrogen nodules on the roots of crimson clover, using a hand lens or loupe will open up new worlds. An internet search will reveal a number of related products.

One company, The Private Eye, describes its product as “a magical magnification tool that when combined with The Private Eye questions, brings out the scientist, writer, artist, mathematician in everyone.” This magical tool is a jeweler’s loupe that magnifies 5 times. At Atkinson, The Private Eye loupes may be checked out from the science closet.

For younger students it is a good idea to go over how to use a loupe and talk about how to focus. The Private Eye suggests that placing an object on an overhead projector and moving it in and out of focus will help teach this concept.

Introductory exercise:

  1. Have students gather.
  2. Pass around loupes, one for each student.
  3. Have students look at their fingerprint.
  4. Ask “What does it remind you of?” and later “What else does it remind you of? Look like?”. Transcribe their responses and read them out loud. This serves as a jumping off point for writing, art projects, journaling, etc.
  5. Let them look at other things around them and/or combine loupes with a partner to see things magnified ten times.

Put together a box of items to look at with the loupe. Students will have good suggestions too.