How to get your kids into optics



As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous posts, my wife and I are always looking for ways to get Ethan, our son, into optics, mainly telescopes and microscopes. I want to write this short post because I think we’ve found several methods to get him to develop an interest in this field. The first thing we had to do, even before we bought a very basic microscope model, was to explain to him several physics notions. I’m not telling you to do the same, but I found that it was useful for us to tell him how light traveled across the universe and on Earth, and let him know a bit about lenses, lasers, and other resources.

The internet is filled with many websites that you can use to do a bit of research on this topic. For instance, I discovered that there is something called The Optical Society and that there’s a site where one can go through some information regarding activities and experiments you can perform at home to develop the skills and curiosity of your child, in this sense. All of these notions might come in handy if your kid is fascinated by science and would maybe like to join a science fair in the future.

As I said, we started by talking to Ethan and telling him everything we knew about the speed of light, how you could control it, bend it, and reflect it. The equipment we needed was basic because we only used several mirrors and a magnifying glass to show him how lenses work. Therefore, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on all sorts of gimmicks, particularly if your child isn’t yet into this kind of stuff. All kids are, to some extent, interested in the universe and the world around them and that’s what my wife and I took advantage of as Ethan is keen on learning a lot about microscopic items, microscopic life, and stars and other planets. You can use pretty much anything you might already have in your home, such as a video projector, a photo camera, reading glasses, binoculars, and of course, more advanced devices such as a telescope and a microscope.

I’m going to be honest, and say that we didn’t feel prepared to invest in a telescope in the beginning because we didn’t know whether or not our son would like the field. That’s why we borrowed one from our family friend to see if he would want to experiment with it. Fortunately, he liked using it right off the bat. We waited for a clear night to go out and look at the stars together. I can’t tell you how thrilled he was when I started explaining all the constellations he had already seen with the naked eye. I’ll tell you more about our tries in future posts, and I hope you’ll find them useful.