Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham (965 – 1040 AD) was an Arab scientist, polymath, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. His speciality was optics and he showed accurately how the eye worked and used the focal point of magnification to make the fore-runner of the pin hole camera, called the camera obscura, proving his theory that light travels in straight lines. He wrote the Book of Optics.
We watched a few You Tube videos about him. The first is a fabulous overview of the Islamic medieval contribution to science and includes a very small amount on Alhazan. This is a film made for the London Science museum and is really good:
The children read the following books:
They spent time playing with the 3D models found in the middle book:
I made sure the children understood exactly how the eye works by showing them this video:
We then pulled out our History of Science kit and began discovering all about the optics that Alhazan had understood so fully:
T11 played with different lens to see how the thickness affected the size of the letters in a newspaper:
And finally he made his very own camera obscura from the science set:
Can I just say how fantastic this was? We spent ages looking at the world upside-down from the view at the back of the camera obscura. This was such a cool project! T11 had tried to make one of these twice before – once when we did astronomy and secondly during his current physics lesson and neither were successful. This one worked a dream though, and to be honest almost made the price of the kit worth it! If all the experiments are as easy to replicate and have such wonderful results I will be a very happy mummy. Have a look at some of the images we managed to get:
We all really enjoyed studying science this way, because it somehow means much more when the findings are attached to a real person with a real life story. T12 has chosen to give his presentation on Alhazan, which I am very much looking forward to.