Magnifying Glass & Sun Ray Science Project

I will admit, I’m not a genius of science projects, but I try to get them in as much as possible. I usually have my 5th grader research projects that he’s interested in. This project was actually an assignment due for his science class online. It was pretty simple, and the outcome was very exciting for my son. So how does a magnifying glass start a fire? It localizes photons through the pin point area that is created by the convex shape of the lens. In order for this process to be successful, sun rays must pass through the magnifying glass of the appropriate focal strength and rest on small dry sticks, twigs or material that is easily ignitable such as paper.

For this easy science project, you will need:
8 1/2 X 11 Paper
Black Permanent Marker
Magnifying Glass
A Sunny Day!

1. Shade in a 4 x 4 square with the marker in the corner of your paper.
2. Place the paper on the ground directly in the view of the sun.
3. Place your magnifying glass over the shaded square to reflect the sunlight.
4. Get close with that magnifying glass, and watch the paper began to form smoke, then graduating into a small fire!


It is recommend to have the paper on the ground for safety reasons, but my son actually held the paper up because the sun just wasn’t beaming as we had hoped. In our experience, we had to toggle with the paper, and the closeness of the magnifying glass. I just think we chose the wrong day to do the project, honestly. It was sunny, but also brisk. However, though much time and effort was spent, the project was successful, and that’s all that matters. Next time we’re going to try leaves!

Have fun!


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