What Is A Kaleidoscope?

A kaleidoscope is an optical instrument consisting of two or more reflecting surfaces such that they are tilted towards each other at an angle at one of the ends so as to obtain a regular symmetrical pattern when viewed from the other end. The reflecting surfaces are enclosed in a tube with colored pieces of glass. These symmetrical images are obtained by rotating the tube.

The word kaleidoscope is derived from the Ancient Greek word called kalos meaning “beautiful beauty”, eidos meaning “that which is seen” and skopeo meaning “to look”. It was invented by David Brewster, a Scottish inventor on July 10, 1817.


Principle Of Kaleidoscope

The basic principles used in the kaleidoscope are the law of reflection and white light is a combination of VIBGYOR. When the white light hits the surface of the mirror, it gets reflected at an angle such that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. Due to these multiple reflections of light, there is a creation of these beautiful patterns.

According to the second principle, the white light is made to pass through the colored objects that are used in the kaleidoscope such that most of the light is absorbed by the objects. Due to this absorption of colors, there is a transmission of different colors too resulting in those patterns.

How to Make A Kaleidoscope?

Create a kaleidoscope and enjoy the various colors and patterns. The Physics of it is based on light and optics. The light bounces from one mirror to the other creating patterns. Beautiful symmetrical patterns are created due to the careful placement of mirrors.

Things you will need:

  • Plastic (See through and colored)
  • Overhead Transparency Paper
  • Pencil
  • Masking/Duct tape (One Roll)
  • Mirrored Perspex (3 Pieces)

How to do it:

  1. Use the 3 pieces of mirrored perspex and roll them as a tape in the form of a triangle. Try to ensure that it has a solid and it is taped on the outside of the triangle.
  2. Sketch the small triangle located at the edge of the kaleidoscope to the overhead transparency paper (set aside 1 cm extra around the triangle to allow folding of the paper).
  3. Keep the transparency paper to the kaleidoscope edge and cut the narrow openings at the edges which would facilitate the folding of the edges easily.
  4. Attach the paper into a separate place.
  5. Make another triangle by drawing it and this time it should be 2 cm larger than the earlier one
  6. Choose the kind of plastic color you would like to put inside the kaleidoscope. Take off small paper cuttings that would set well on the transparent paper.
  7. Place the colored plastic at the end of the Kaleidoscope that has a transparency paper and add another transparency paper (triangle) a little bigger than the earlier one. Keep the second triangle upside down so that there would be ample space for plastic to shift between the two transparencies.
  8. Once you have finished making the Kaleidoscope, design it in an attractive manner with colors, glitters and so on.

What happens next?

You might have noticed that the kaleidoscope works on white light shifting through the mirrors inside. When students look through the mirror, they would find different color patterns owing to the symmetrical pattern formed by the mirrors placed at the right places.

Uses Of Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope produces beautiful patterns that are used by the fashion designers and is used a toy by kids.

Stay tuned with BYJU’S to learn more on other Physics related concepts.

Practise This Question

Angle of minimum deviation for a prism of refractive index 1.5 is equal to the angle of prism. The angle of prism is (cos41=0.75)