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Inquiry 1: How Can I Learn More About Eyeglasses?

Research - Using a variety of media, have groups of students research the following types of eyeglasses: traditional eyeglasses for nearsightedness and farsightedness, bifocal lenses, monocles or eye rings, lorgnette glasses, contact lenses, bifocal contact lenses, sunglasses, or pince-nez glasses. Students may also come up with other types of eyeglasses to research. Encourage groups to present their findings to classmates. Models of special types of glasses like lorgnettes or jealousy glasses can be displayed.

Writing/Research - Have students pretend that they are visiting an eye doctor because they may need eyeglasses. While in the doctor's office they see a pamphlet that describes how the eye of a person that is near-sighted is different from the normal eye. Have students create a pamphlet that explains this information, and describes what type of lenses would be needed in glasses to correct near-sightedness (myopia).

Careers - Encourage students to conduct an interview with an optometrist or ophthalmologist, or both. Interview questions would differ considerably based on the fact that an ophthalmologist has a medical degree and an optometrist is a technician.

Reading - Either read aloud, or have students read The Eyes of Kid Midas by Neal Shusterman (ISBN 0812534603). In the story, a young boy finds a pair of magic sunglasses that grant him every wish. He struggles with using the glasses for personal gain and must decide whether to keep the glasses or get rid of them. This is suitable for grades 4 through 6 and would be a good source of discussion about eyeglasses.

Inventions/History - Believe it or not, sunglasses are not a twentieth century invention. The Inuit people used materials from their environment to fashion protective eyewear to cut down on the sun's glare many years before. They needed to protect themselves from the blinding glare called "snow blindness," which is occurs when light reflects off snow. Items used to make these sunglasses were driftwood, deer's hooves, and baleen (whalebone). Have students research the development of protective eyewear and invent or design a type of protective eyewear out of unusual materials found in nature.

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