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Lesson Plan #:AELP-SCI002
Submitted by: Patricia (Pat) Brickley, Battle Mountain. Junior. High; Battle Mountain, NV.
Endorsed by: These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have attended the Columbia Education Center’s Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium of teacher from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of education in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at the Workshops.

Date: May 1994

Grade Level(s): 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


  • Science

OVERVIEW: When I first started teaching science, ten years ago, I was overwhelmed by lack. I lacked equipment, models, time, money, experience and expertise. I needed so much and had so little, especially time, that nothing seemed to get accomplished. The summer before my second year I hit on a plan. Pick the one thing that seems to offer the most value to my classes, gather and assemble it before school starts, then perfect it throughout the school year. The necessary criteria to be considered were the following:

  • It must be built well enough to withstand several years normal use.
  • The cost must be minimal.
  • It must be an open-ended, on-going, creative or inquiring type of project.
  • It must need a minimum of upkeep. Five years ago the Magic Mirror Box was my Most Valuable Project.
  • PURPOSE: The purpose of this activity is to provide students with a hands-on activity which will stimulate their interest in observing, inquiring, and experimenting.

    OBJECTIVE(s): Students will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the different effects of light and mirrors.
  • Develop an interest, curiosity, and understanding of light and mirrors.
  • Demonstrate skills of observation.
  • RESOURCES/MATERIALS: I built my box (12X12X12) out of 3/8 plywood. The top and bottom were cut in half, diagonally and hinged. One side corner was also hinged with the opposite corner left to open and close. Then, using mirror squares, I cut the mirrors to fit the box and attached them to the box with that double-stick, cushioned mirror tape.

    ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES: I introduce the box at the beginning of the year with a lesson on observation. I caution the students about being careful while using it since it is breakable. Then I leave it on a table in the room, inviting them to investigate it during their free time. (It can also be used in a lesson on light and mirrors, but I find the real value comes from the informal, individual investigation.

    TYING IT ALL TOGETHER: I can not remember a single day when someone hasn’t been over there experimenting and observing before school, between classes, or after school. After all of this use, 5 years later, only one corner on the top mirror has been broken.

    One thing to consider is this: If the school pays for the materials, they belong to the school. If you pay for them, they belong to you. Think of the reaction of an administrator who is interviewing you for a new job, if you were to say, Please come out to my vehicle and let me show you the models I will be bringing to the classes I teach.