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Concave & Convex Lenses: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rodney Davis

Rodney has 9 years of elementary teaching experience and a Master of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education.

In this lesson, you will learn about both concave and convex lenses. We will explore how these types of lenses bend light to help people see things both near and far more clearly.

What Are Lenses?

Do you wear glasses? Maybe some of your friends or family members wear glasses? If so, then you might already know that a person's eye glasses are made especially for that person. One person's may help him see objects far away, while another person's glasses may help focus things close up. All eye glasses have lenses, which are pieces of glass specially shaped to refract (bend and direct) light rays in ways that help you see more clearly.

The lenses in eye glasses are curved to refract light.
eye glasses

Lenses are used in many different ways, not just for eye glasses. For example, scientists use them to see things very far away, like other planets, as well as zooming in on very tiny things like miniature bacteria. And lenses come in two general shapes: concave or convex. Let's learn what these two words mean.

Concave Lenses

Concave lenses, also called negative lenses, curve inward from the edges toward the center. So, they're thinner at the center than around the edges. To remember this, focus on the last part of the word: cave, as in when something caves in. Once light rays hit the lens, they spread out, creating an image smaller than the actual object but crisper.

Concave lenses curve inward toward the middle and spread light rays out away from each other.
concave lens

This type of lens can help people who are nearsighted--who see objects up close well but have trouble seeing faraway objects. They're also used in telescopes, which help people see things that really far away seem bigger and up close.

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