The Science and Culture of Art - Maui the Kitemaker

Lesson 4 - Activities

Time: 45 minutes



Inset:  A small picture inserted within the bounds of a larger one

Concave: (of an object or surface) curved inwards like the inner surface of a sphere.

Convex: Having a surface or boundary that curves or bulges outward, as the exterior of a sphere.




Microscopes or hand lenses or magnifying glasses

Pencil and paper

Flat-sided bottle

Convex bottle

Concave bottle if you can find one (maybe a hurricane glass?)


Have students make line drawings of a plant or leaf with their naked eye. Then have them examine parts of the leaf under magnification. Have them choose a portion and draw it as an inset. Make a box around the inset and have them indicate on the larger illustration the area that was observed under magnification and at what power the inset was drawn.


Do short demonstration of how a microscope or magnifying glass works. Have water in a flat-sided bottle and one that is convex. Show how the curved “lens” bends the light and magnifies it. If you can find one that is concave, show the opposite effect when the curves go the other way.


When students have finished one or more illustrations, have them think about and discuss different ways of illustrating the same plant, e.g., photos, paintings, etc. What might be reasons for making different representations of the same thing? What are the differences between and relative advantages of scientific illustration vs. abstract art?