Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Kids Science: Dollar Bill Under the Microscope

A great kids microscope project involves using a stereo microscope at anywhere from 10x-40x magnification to view a single dollar bill. How many hidden items can you find on a dollar bill? Here are a few fun facts about the US Dollar.

If you place a dollar bill with a frayed edge under the stereo microscope at a higher magnification, you might be able to see the linen fibers of the bill. A dollar bill is made out of a blend of linen and cotton and this is why if you accidentally jump in the pool with money in your pocket, the dollars survive the washing. Look closely with the microscope - there are actually red and blue silk fibers woven throughout the bill.

On the face of the dollar bill you will see a large letter inside a circle and a number off to the side of this letter. The seal with the large letter tells you the Federal Reserve bank that placed the order for the dollar bill. A = Boston, B = New York City, C = Philadelphia, D = Cleveland, E = Richmond, VA, F = Atlanta, G = Chicago, H = St. Louis, I = Minneapolis, J = Kansas City, K = Dallas, and L = San Francisco.

The letter on the dollar bill tells which Federal Reserve Bank placed the order.
The number to the left of the large letter corresponds to that specific letter placement in the alphabet. For example, "F" is the 6th letter in the alphabet. The letter "D" has a 4 next to it.

What is hiding in the corner of this shield?
Take a look at the shield behind the 1 in the corner of the dollar bill. Can you see a small spider or an owl?

Find the Great Seal of the United States on the bill. Do you know that the founding fathers of America approved this design in 1782? Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson all were involved in the design.

Find the words Annuit Coeptis. Do you know what this means? The first of three Latin phrases on the back of the dollar bill are translated "God has favored our undertakings."

The Great Seal of the United States
Under the pyramid do you see some Roman numerals? Look closely with your microscope. The letters MDCCLXXVI stand for 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. M = 1000, D = 500, CC = 200, L = 50, XX = 20, VI = 6. If you add them all together you get 1776.

What else can you find on the dollar bill when looking at it under the microscope? Whose signatures are on the bill? What items do you think were used to keep counterfeit money from being made?