The kaleidoscope is an optical gadget that produces stunning reflective patterns in a tube containing mirrors. It was invented by the Scottish scientist David Brewster nearly 200 years ago and has been popular ever since. Kaleidoscopes are big business and there are still entirely new types to be designed.
The kaleidoscope has two main parts:
1. A tube with three mirrors arranged in a triangle
2. Something to look at the end of the tube
When you look through the tube, the mirrors reflect what you see to give amazing repeat patterns. Most kaleidoscopes have a small box in front containing glass beads and glitter. These images change when the kaleidoscope is turned around.
If you view a kaleidoscope through the camera of a smart phone you can see the patterns full screen, share them with others – and send video or still photos to friends. You can also make screen saver wallpaper etc.
Making a basic kaleidoscope:
1. Make a paper tube by rolling paper around a plastic mandrel. Place a line of glue on the paper about 90mm from the edge and roll one revolution. Press on the glue line. Now glue along the other edge of the paper and complete the rolling.
2. Slide the paper tube off the mandrel.
3. Push the three mirrors into the tube and then look through it.
If you view a colourful picture or just look through it, you will see the special kaleidoscope image. Hold it carefully in front of your phone camera to see the image on-screen.
Please Note: Images are for illustration purposes only and are intended as suggestions for possible designs.
Please see below for list of parts included.
Developing the kaleidoscope
You can make the tube of the kaleidoscope stronger and more interesting by gluing on a layer of coloured or printed paper. To work out how much paper you need for one layer, multiply the diameter of the tube by pi (3.142) and add 10mm for an overlap. Cut the paper about 8mm longer than the tube so you can tuck it in a both ends for a neat finish.
Design something to look at. You can really do amazing things here.
1. Move a coloured picture in front of the tube
2. Make an object case and fill it with small beads etc. To do this:
a. Push in a disc of clear acrylic so that it touches against the mirrors.
b. Push in the beads etc.
c. Fit the second acrylic disk in the tube to hold the beads.
3. Suspend coloured threads in front of the tube and blow on them.
If you want your kaleidoscope to become a real phone app., can you think of a way of clipping it to a smart phone?
The Smart Phone Kaleidoscope kit contains sufficient components for 10 pupils : 30 strips of mirrored plastic, 2 mandrels for making the paper tubes and a project information sheet.