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Who Invented the Kaleidoscope?

Written by Saachi Singh, grade 8 student.

The Kaleidoscope is an exemplary example of how science enhances our way of living. But what is this tool? How is it used?

By I Kid You Not , in Did You Know , at October 30, 2020 Tags:

Written by Saachi Singh, grade 8 student

Science is a fascinating concept. It allows us to understand the roots of our existence, our future, and explains phenomena that are more often considered impossible than not. Yet, there is another aspect to science. It helps us not only to understand daily life, but also to live it to the fullest by utilizing all its notions.

The Kaleidoscope is an example of how science enhances our way of living. But what is this tool? How is it used?


Fundamentally, the Kaleidoscope is an optical device that uses properties of light to generate vibrant, rich and unique patterns. An enthralling fact about kaleidoscopes is that no 2 patterns created by the instrument are the same. They are all special in their own way.

The word “kaleidoscope” is derived from the Ancient Greek word kalos – whihc means beautiful, or beauty, and eidos, which means – “that which is seen: form, shape” and skopeō – “to look to, to examine”, as coined by its inventor, Sir David Brewster.


Kaleidoscopes can be of varying shapes and sizes. They can be handmade of manufactured. Today, most handmade kaleidoscopes are made in India, Bangladesh, Japan, Russia and Italy, following a long tradition of glass craftsmanship in these countries.


The kaleidoscope is characterized by a tube with mirrors lining across its inner walls, reflecting light repeatedly, leading to the colored objects at the end of the tube being reflected continuously and being broadcasted as vivid, colorful patterns and designs. 

When white light hits the surface of a mirror; it gets reflected. This light passes through the colored objects present in the kaleidoscope. Most light is absorbed by these objects.

The mirrors are arranged in a way that the results hues of motifs will always be symmetrical, which is a property found only in them.


Sir David Brewster was born on 11 December. He was a British scientist, inventor, author, and academic administrator. He is recognized for his research, discoveries, and inventions in the field of Physical Optics. A Scot, he was born in the Canongate in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire.

Among the non-scientific public, his fame spread more effectually by his invention in about 1815 of the kaleidoscope, for which there was a great demand in the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.

The Kaleidoscope being only one of his many primary and secondary inventions, he is also remembered to be the pioneer of an improved stereoscope, which he called “lenticular stereoscope”, the binocular camera, two types of polar meters, the polyzonal lens, and the lighthouse illuminator.


These special devices are mass-produced from easily obtainable everyday materials, such as cardboard, mirrors, etc. Originally intended as children’s toys for entertainment, they are also used in the field of fashion designing to supply new and distinctive ideas for patterns and colors to fashion designers and influencers.  Craft galleries often carry a few kaleidoscopes.


  1. Use 3 pieces of mirrored Perspex and roll them as tape in the form of a triangle. Try to ensure that it has a solid and is taped on the outside of the triangle.
  2. Sketch the small triangle located on the edge of the kaleidoscope to the overhead transparency paper 1cm extra around the triangle to allow folding of paper.
  3. Keep the transparency paper to the edge of the kaleidoscope and cut narrow openings at the corners. Attach the paper to a separate place.
  4. Make another triangle (2cm taller than the last one). Take off small paper cutting for beauty and enamoring.
  5. Place the colored plastics at the end of the tool and add another transparency paper.
  6. Keep the second triangle upside down so as to leave ample space for plastic to shift between two transparencies.
  7. Now design it with colored paper, glitter, etc.

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