Making Pictures With Dots

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Updated on Sep 18, 2014

Grade Level: 7th - 8th; Type: Physical Science

Determine how dots are used to make pictures.

  • What is a digital camera?
  • How is it different from earlier cameras?
  • What are pixels?
  • What is a grid?
  • Define resolution.
  • Define pixelization.
  • What are the effects of pixelization as an image is enlarged?

On an information level, the student will explore how picture elements, namely, dots or pixels are used in digital photographs. Were we to visit a museum and carefully study samples of paintings of the impressionists, we could readily visualize what pixels are like. What we would see are dabs of color. Were to compare these paintings with digital photos we would see a mosaic of pixels. In this project, the students will collect colored pictures from newspapers and magazines and examine them with a hand lens and a microscope and describe their observations. They will compare these pictures citing similarities and differences. In the process they will reach some very interesting conclusions. On the process level, they will use the scientific method in conducting their research and produce a final product, a research paper documented with a bibliography.

  • a large, colored, simple picture from a magazine,
  • a picture from a newspaper,
  • a piece of graph paper,
  • a piece of tracing paper,
  • colored pens,
  • a magnifying glass,
  • a microscope and tape.

All of the materials may be purchased at the local supermarket and the microscope may be borrowed from the school`s science lab.

  1. Gather all of the materials you will need to conduct this experiment. These include a large, colored, simple picture from a magazine, a picture from a newspaper, a piece of graph paper, a piece of tracing paper, colored pens, a magnifying glass, a meter stick, a TV screen and tape.
  2. Copy the Data Chart provided below so that you may readily record your observations. Construct your hypothesis as to how you think television, newspaper and magazine pictures are made. Record your hypothesis.
  3. Start with the picture you took from a magazine. Tape a piece of graph paper over the magazine picture.
  4. Select a color that you think best matches the color of the picture underneath each square and color each square making the match. Do this and complete the entire picture.
  5. What you now have are two pictures. The original magazine picture and the copy you made. Place both pictures next to each other so that you can easily compare them.
  6. Now observe and compare both pictures as you change your distance from the pictures. Start at 1m, then continue to2m, 4m, 6m, 8m, 10 m. Record your findings. At which distance did the pictures look alike? Why? Record your observations in the Data Chart.
  7. What would be the result if you were you to increase the size of the graph paper squares? What would be the result if you were to decrease the size of the squares?
  8. How does the distance from the dot (pixel) picture and the size of the dots affect the clarity of the picture?
  9. Now using a magnifying glass look closely at your newspaper picture and then at a picture on your TV screen. Compare the two. What did you discover?
  10. Go back and read your hypothesis. Were you on track?
  11. Write up your report. Be certain to include your arm chair research and your bibliography.

Data Chart








Terms/Concepts: digital photograph; dots; pixels; grid; resolution; magnification; pixelization


Dr. Muriel Gerhard (Ed.D.) is a retired educator with fifty seven years of experience in all aspects of public education. She has been a teacher, principal, administrator, college professor, researcher, grants writer, change agent and science editor. She is the author of several books on education used as college texts. These include the best selling Effective Teaching Strategies with the Behavioral Outcomes Approach and The Behavioral Outcomes Handbook for Teachers and Administrators. Presently she is a consultant in science education and curriculum development, a marriage and family therapist, a newspaper columnist and an author. Her latest book, recently published, is a memoir of sixty vignettes entitled "Now That I'm Dead, I Decided to Write this Book".

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