How solid are the sun’s rays? can you use solar energy to start a fire, with just a magnifying glass?

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Please note…


Bumble Bee had actually just rotate three once we walk this activity. You could think it’s a little foolhardy come teach your children how to irradiate fires in the backyard, but I think you have to judge what’s ideal depending for her kids based upon your own situation. Personal I recognize that if my kids have access to something perhaps dangerous, (eg a magnifying glass), then I’d fairly they talk around it and investigate the potential threats with me, 보다 accidentally find out on their own. That method we deserve to agree to reasonable borders together.

You are watching: Burning ants with magnifying glass


The idea because that this activity came about after mine youngest daughter Bumble punishment watched the movie Ants. A quick while later, she started having nightmares around being eliminated by a ring of fire coming the end of the sky, that renders a buzzing noise. She to be talking around a step in the movie where a boy supplies a magnifying glass come burn ants. The step is ‘shot’ indigenous the perspective of the ants, so it looks favor the beam of fire is coming directly from the sky.

(And this is why i hesitate to let my youngsters watch feature length movies. Look at sweet movies always have a couple of scary scene or characters. Why execute they perform that??? I’ve since found out around a wonderful resource called typical Sense Media, the ranks movies by period appropriateness. It’s awesome.)

My youngsters are used to things being described in adult terms, for this reason there was no method that Bumble Bee would certainly accept she fears being dismissed lightly. Instead, we defined that the fire wasn’t coming from the sky, but instead to be coming from under a magnifying glass. We talked around how it wasn’t an extremely kind the the young to pains the ants, and how scary it would certainly be because that the ants in that situation. We talked around how we room kind in our family, and also we don’t ache anyone or anything. We talked around solar energy and also the strength of the sun. Us talked around how a magnifying glass is shame in a way that concentrates sunlight right into one point, and also how this magnifies the sun’s energy.

And then we took Bumble Bee external to present her exactly how it works. Yet not ~ above ants!

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We tried concentrating the sun’s rays on she Daddy’s hand first. Ouch! the starts come burn straight away. Then us let her try focusing the rays on a leaf. The takes a little of practice relocating the magnifying glass forward and backward until you find the focus point, where all the sun’s rays room angled so that they are concentrated on one point.

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We stopped as soon as our leaves were smoking, however honestly, i was a bit (naively) take away aback in ~ just exactly how easy it was to get a an excellent smoulder going. Correctly it to be a hot Spring day, and yes us were utilizing dried increase eucalyptus gum pipeline for ours experiment, however it took possibly 1 or 2 seconds for the sheet to begin smoking. And this was using cheap $2 shop magnifying glasses. Solar power is amazing. Offered the really hot summers and high fire risk in Australia, I’m going to it is in extra careful from now on to make sure that my children don’t accidentally leaving their magnifying glasses outside.

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And, wouldn’t you understand it, Bumble Bee’s ring of fire nightmares have stopped. Sleep well, sweet child.

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The scientific research Behind It

A magnifying glass lens has actually a convex shape, which bends the sunlight, so the all the sunshine hitting the lens is focused into one focal point. If you position a sheet so that it is in ~ the exact same distance as the focal distance point, there is enough energy to create a the majority of heat.

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If you space doing this v older kids, you can turn it right into an experiment! Measure exactly how long the takes because that you to start seeing smoke. Shot using different varieties of leaves, or various materials, and see if this affect the time. Does the street that you organize the magnifying glass from the object impact the results? What around if you try it on different days – does the residual temperature affect the results? You can turn this right into a yes, really fun scientific research fair project – simply remember to readjust only one variable at a time, and also measure your results!