They look a little bit like small telescopes you can hold in your hands. One end has a hole you can look into. The other end has a translucent paper or other material that lets light in.
Inside the kaleidoscope, a number of mirrors are arranged in a circle. It also holds a variety of colorful objects, like beads, pebbles, or small pieces of glass. These items are free to move around. When a person rotates the outside of the kaleidoscope, the mirrors reflect the movement of the small objects. Looking through the viewer, they’ll see fascinating images that change with each movement.
Who invented the kaleidoscope? Sir David Brewster of Scotland created the first one in 1815. He came up with the idea while doing experiments on light polarization. He came up with the name “kaleidoscope” by combining several Greek words. Together, they meant “observer of beautiful forms.”
At first, Brewster intended his creation to be used as a scientific tool. It became very popular as a toy, though. In 1817, Brewster sold over 200,000 kaleidoscopes in London and Paris in just three months!
Brewster thought he would become wealthy thanks to his invention. However, a fault in his application for a patent allowed others to copy his creation. Today, kaleidoscopes can be made from just about any type of material. This may include plastic, cardboard, wood, steel, brass, and even stained glass.
You can find kaleidoscopes in many places. Many people have them at home or use them in school. They can be bought in toy stores, game shops, and a variety of other places. The next time you use a kaleidoscope, you’ll be able to explain exactly how they work!