Infrared camera and the disappearing drawings

We had some good fun using our baby monitor as an infrared camera the other day. It's clearly been memorable as the small one has told me several times about how his pandas looked different and how he saw half the Queen! He has also remembered the word 'infrared'.

I thought it would be possible to find two black pens, one of which would absorb infrared as well as visible light, and one which would only absorb visible light. This would let us draw pictures which looked different to the eye and the infrared camera.  After a little naptime experimentation under the watchful eye of the small one (well, whilst keeping a watchful eye on his attempts at eating his brother's toys anyway) I found two such pens. The one which only absorbed infrared is a Crayola first felt tip as used in our chromatography experiment, and which has the brilliant feature of being washable. The only pens which I could find in our house that absorbed both visible and infrared light were permanent markers. The permanent pens weren't very toddler-suitable so I decided the best approach was to draw some pictures myself to play with, and also some shapes for him to colour in with the washable pen.

Given his enthusiasm for 'baby' panda's disappearing black stripes, I drew a picture of a panda, with some parts in each pen.  I readily admit that art isn't my strong point, but it looked enough like a panda for him to recognise what it was meant to be!  He's also starting to read (thanks to the Alphablocks) and I decided to write the word 'panda' too, but to make it so the last two letters would disappear in the infrared to give the word 'pan' and see what he could tell me about the words. 

The other picture I drew was of Numberblock six, as he's very keen on the Numberblocks at the moment and to be honest. they're fairly easy to draw, whereas I suspect my art skills wouldn't be up to drawing any of his other favourite characters.  I also drew a square in the hope he'd add arms, legs and a face to turn it into Numberblock one as he'd tried to do on a chalkboard recently.

I suggested that we have another play with the infared camera, and he was very enthusiastic.  I explained that we had the two pens, and could make drawings that become invisible in infrared, and he got very excited and bouncy...  

We had a look at the panda picture and asked him some questions about the colour of its ears, eyes and whether it had a big smile to get him to focus on the details and notice what looked different in infrared.  We then went into his brother's room with the blind shut so the camera switched into infrared mode, and pointed the camera at the picture.  The panda looked totally different, and he eagerly told me that it had white ears, white eyes and it looked less happy.  We were able to have the original picture in front of us and the monitor screen so it was easy to see the difference.  He also managed to sound out the word pan, and saw that the original picture had a longer word, which he managed to read with a little prompting.

The panda picture and word 'panda' in visible light and infrared

We did the same for the Numberblock picture and saw that the blocks, spots and number 6 were invisible in infrared.  I suggested that he could do some drawing and make an invisible picture too, and he was keen, but when it came to the actual drawing he just wanted to do some scribbles and head back to the camera.  He's not into drawing at the best of time, but this wasn't exactly the Numberblock I'd thought he might create.

Numberblock six in visible light and infrared

Square with toddler scribbles in visible light and infrared

We looked and saw that only the original square was visible on the camera, then had another look at the panda, before his brother needed feeding and we went to read a book instead.  I'm sure we'll do something else with the infrared camera before too long as he was eager to show Daddy this evening!