Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pepper's Ghost in a Box for Kids

We managed to descarify (I'm officially declaring that to be a word), another bit of Halloween imagery, thanks to some help from Michele Torrey, and The Case of the Graveyard Ghost.

I hadn't actually planned on doing any "ghost" projects with the children this season, and I really hadn't intended on mentioning another book in this series, so soon. But, when it arrived in at the library, last night, and I flipped through the experiments in the back, I nearly nerded out with excitement to see a simple, "Pepper's ghost" in a box project.

I've been looking for a project like this - though I'd been searching for "holograms for kids", since we watched The Magic School Bus Gets a Bright Idea (you can find that episode, here, on gamequarium.org). Torrey not only has easy to follow instructions for making one, and a short Doyle and Fossey story to go with it, but a child-friendly history lesson about Professor John Henry Pepper, the 19th century scientist, who created the "holographic", stage ghost illusion, which is still known today as "Pepper's ghost".

All that we needed to build our own holographic machine, was an old (and somewhat decorated) cardboard box, a piece of Plexiglas (I have an one, taken from a poster picture frame, that I keep around for experiments), some black construction paper, a flash light, some scissors, and a couple toys (we used Lego men, and a sheep finger puppet).

I won't give you a step by step on building the project, because Torrey's instructions seem to be unique, but the idea behind the illusion is to reflect an lit image, not seen by the audience, through a piece of glass (or in our case Plexiglas)...


...to make it appear on stage, as a ghost.


The kids had a great time moving the toys around, and creating "ghostly" hands, grabbing at them.


And, in the process, they got a lesson in optics, history, and the theater. I am now officially in love with this series of books.

If you're looking for more fun with science, well, stick around. We usually have some experiment, or other coming down the pike. Or, if it's history, or even geography you're interestied in, then click on over to this week's History and Geography link-up, at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

10 comments:

Christy said...

HOW COOL IS THAT???????!!!!

Debbie said...

This is cool! Thank you for the link to my Geography/History.

Joyful Learner said...

That is too cool! I need to get that book and put our plexiglass to use!

Phyllis said...

How fun! That sounds like a great series. I will have to check them out. (Quite literally I mean -check them out of the library.) :)

Lady Chadwick said...

cool! I love showing kids how fancy effects are made. I so want to do this...

Wonder Mom said...

You need to submit "descarify" to Webster's... :0)

Discovering Montessori said...

You always find the coolest books that have very interesting experiments tied in. Nice project! By the way I have to admit something I love the Magic School Bus before reading your blog I thought I was the only one that still watched these programs. I have a DVR and record the shows,sometimes I watch them without my children.LOL. Thank you for sharing.

Ticia said...

Super duper exciting!

Raising a Happy Child said...

Wow! This IS cool. I can see how popular it can be with kids of all ages.

Jenny said...

I've never seen anything like this before. You guys are fun!