Multiple Magnification – Research-Backed At-Home Activities – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Multiple Magnification

‘Zooming in’ takes on new meaning in this activity as children use multiple tools for magnification—from a smart phone camera to a magnifying lens—to gain new perspective on common items.

Learning Goals:

  • Be Curious
  • Come Up with Ideas and Try Them Out
  • Communicate Thinking

Materials Needed:

  • Phone that can take pictures
  • Magnifying lens (or smartphone camera microscope lens)
  • Paper and pencil


  • Ask your child to find something they want to see up-close, such as a piece of fruit, a leaf, or a flower.
  • Take a picture of the item with your phone as closely as you can, without the image being blurry. Look at the photo with your child, taking note of what shape or colors they notice in both the picture and the real object.
  • Zoom in on an area of the picture that you find interesting. Give your child a chance to zoom in and out with their fingers, and talk about what happens to the image as they do.
  • Introduce the magnifying lens and let your child explore it. Encourage them to use it to look at the same object you took a picture of. Compare how using a magnifying lens is similar or different to using the zoom feature on your phone.

Tips for Adults:

  • As your child explores, take the opportunity to ask questions that prompt reflection and creative thinking:
    • What happens to the picture when we zoom in?
    • Can you see more detail with your eye, or with the phone, or with the magnifying lens?
    • How large can you make a small detail on the object?
    • At what point do you get so close that you can no longer tell what the object is?
  • If your child is interested, they can also draw pictures of the object they selected. Have them draw one picture from far away, to capture the object’s surroundings, and then one from close up to capture all the details they noticed when using the phone and the magnifier.
  • Explore combinations of lenses to see what creative images you can make. Can you use the magnifying lens combined with the phone? What happens when you combine photos using more than one phone?

Support BADM during COVID-19

Bay Area Discovery Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing children with research-backed early learning experiences that inspire creative problem solving. We need your help now more than ever.

Scroll to Top