The science of reflection using mirrors can be super engaging for preschoolers straight through adulthood. That is probably why we find some great mirror exhibits in science and children's museums! For some fun with reflections at home or school, try this low-tech and easy-prep mirror activity.
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Can you make a four-leaf clover with just a green dot on a piece of paper and two small mirrors?
To try this out you'll need:
- drawing paper or index cards
- 2 small plastic mirrors
- colorful markers or crayons
- modeling clay or small cans to hold up mirrors (optional)
For small hands, it makes it easier to hold the mirrors in place either by creating a stand for each out of a ball of clay, or attaching them to something so that they stand up. We taped ours to two small cans to make it easy to move and adjust.
Keep adjusting the angle and placement of the mirrors. What is the greatest number of leaves that you can make on the clover? A fun extension for older students is to measure the different angles of the mirrors with a protractor and compare that to the number of leaves it creates on the clover. Is there a pattern?
Try this with other shapes and drawings. How about a rainbow, or symmetrical shapes or letters? The possibilities are endless.
So what is the science? Light is being reflected or "bounced" from the surface of the mirror to your eyes. In this case, you are observing the light being emitted by the green dot. The placement of the mirrors results in the light bouncing back and forth off of the smooth surfaces of the mirrors. With each "bounce" another image is visible.
Want to teach a lesson on reflection? I highly recommend the "Mirror, Mirror" lesson featured in More Picture Perfect Science Lessons: Using Children's Books to Guide Inquiry, K-4 . This lesson uses the great picture book I See Myself by Vicki Cobb.
If you're in the classroom, you might also like to check out this neat way to explore reflection: GeoReflectors!
Check out the other posts in the STEAM Saturday blog hop for more St. Patrick's Day themed activities!Magic Milk Rainbow Science | Schooling a Monkey
Exploring Reflections: Creating 4-Leaf Clovers With Mirrors | Share it! Science
Rainbow Preschool STEAM / STEM Activities for Kids | Preschool POWOL Packets
Skittles Rainbow | STEM for St. Patrick's Day | Science Kiddo