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Inquiry 10: How Does It Work? Project Ideas

The following are additional project ideas that may be used as extensions to other activities or as the main focus of additional units of study. The enrichment opportunities will help your students learn more about the human eye, vision problems, ophthalmology, the design of optical devices, and the history of theories involving light and its properties.

Research - Assign to pairs of students one of the following vision problems or diseases: nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, colorblindness, macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, or cataracts. Each student pair should research their topic and then prepare a poster, pamphlet, or other form of presentation that explains to others the causes and treatment of the problem or disease they investigated.

Research/Interview - Students should research how eyeglasses or contact lenses are made and how they are designed to correct various vision problems. Encourage students to report on changes in the design of contact lenses and materials used to make them since the first ones were made available to the public. Students could conduct an interview with an optician or ophthalmologist to find out more about the fitting of contact lenses and the problems they encounter.

Model - Have students design models that illustrate the similarities and differences between the human eye and devices that use lenses, such as cameras, microscopes, and telescopes.

Timeline - To integrate history and the study of optics, students can research and prepare a timeline large enough to be displayed in the classroom on the history of lenses, the history of optical instruments, or the history of basic theories involving light and its properties. They could refer to the Science, Optics & You Timeline for help.

Pioneers in Optics - Have students research and report on pioneers in optics and microscopy. Some scientists that have contributed to optics in general include Alhazen, Roger Bacon, Johannes Kepler, Hans Lippershey, Galileo Galilei, Francesco Grimaldi, Willebrord Snell, Rene Descartes, Pierre de Fermat, Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton, Christiaan Huygens, Thomas Young, Joseph von Fraunhofer, Augustin Fresnel, Christian Doppler, Michael Faraday, Jean Foucault, and Albert Einstein. If you prefer, however, that your students concentrate on those that are particularly important in the field of microscopy, they might choose Robert Hooke, Karl Friederich Gauss, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Christiaan Huygens, Joseph Jackson Lister, Zacharias Janssen, or Carl Zeiss.

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