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OurStory: Life on the Water Lenses and Lighthouses

Directions, page 1 of 1

For adults and kids to follow togethe .

  • 1.

    Together, explore the presentation How Things Work: The Fresnel Lens.

  • 2.

    Talk about what you learned about the Fresnel lens from the National Museum of American History.

  • 3.

    Look for a Fresnel lens near you.

    • If possible, find or buy a sheet magnifier or a “pocket Fresnel lens .” These come in several sizes, from the size of a business card to a whole sheet of paper. Experiment with using the magnifier on dierent objects at dierent distances. Turn it sideways and look closely to see the tiny plastic parts that make up the whole lens.

    • If you are outside, look at a parked car nearby. Examine the headlights to see if they include any Fresnel lenses.

    • If you are in a classroom with an overhead projector, take a look at the lenses to figure out if they are Fresnel lenses.

  • 4.

    Now that you have learned how Fresnel lenses work and looked for one in real life,

think of a new way you could use a Fresnel lens. Fresnel lenses can magnify words or images that are close by, or send light very far into the distance. What invention could you make that would use a Fresnel lens?


Use the Thinkabout sheet to develop your new invention!


You can use the pictures from the presentation or the online exhibition

(http: /americanhistory.si.edu/onthewater/) to make your picture very accurate.

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