Saturday, April 16, 2016

Don't look at the sun!

Anecdotal but an example of the burden of being a science teacher and knowing better. ;)

A neighbor boy was all excited to show me his magnifying glass, a little plastic thing he probably got in a goody bag. “Look Bree, if I look at the sun it burns a bit!”

You can probably imagine how loudly I shouted “Nooooo!” He was persistent and I had to actively block his eye and the magnifying glass from the sun for a while with my own shadow. I tried to direct him to looking at things on the ground with the magnifying glass. I had him hold the magnifying glass at arm’s length to view another neighbor. “He’s upside down!?”

He continued to play with it for quite a while, and my science-oriented heart swelled a bit, when he conducted some side experiments with a translucent cup on the ground.

“Look, the shadow is green like the cup! If I tilt the cup the shadow changes. If I move the magnifying glass the little sun changes.”

Out of respect for my friendship with his mother I did not teach him about the heat at the focus of the magnifying glass. Although when he briefly aimed it skyward again I was tempted.

The next time we got together I brought home some of my eclipse viewing glasses. I told all the neighbors (there are nine under the age of ten within a few houses) that they were the only safe way to view the sun. Their response was less than impressed, “Oh, it looks like an orange ball.” Then they tried to see if they could ride their bikes or walk or play tag while wearing them. Hey, everyday can’t be a victory.

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