How many colors are in a strand of hair? What does the inside of my belly button look like? How does Velcro work? The answer to these questions and more are soon to be found using the Coastal Children’s Museum newest piece of educational equipment, School and Science Technology Resources’ Scope on a Rope.

With purchase made possible by a grant from Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds initiative, the Scope on a Rope is easy to use; children simply touch the magnifying lens to an object (butterfly, leaf, bellybutton etc) and the magnified image is instantly focused, illuminated and displayed on a screen sharing it with the entire group.

Connect a Million Minds is Time Warner Cable’s five-year, $100 million signature philanthropic initiative which serves to reignite students’ interest in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields of study through creative expression and innovation. Launched in conjunction with President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, this initiative is designed to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in STEM. Through their website, they host The Connectory, an online resource for parents and students to find informal science and technology learning opportunities in their communities. The initiative also produces public service announcements in addition to funding STEM education projects from non-profits like the Coastal Children’s Museum all over the country.

“We are so thankful for Time Warner Cable’s generous grant and excited to start using our Scope on a Rope with children here at the museum and at schools, libraries and community organizations,” said Outreach and Program Coordinator Megan Rogers in a news release. Last fall the museum acquired a microscope on loan from STR and the board and staff were delighted by the enthusiastic response from children and parents alike. “Children were so inspired they started searching for things to magnify: a towel, an insect, a flower petal, the top of their head. You can gain a lot of understanding from just taking a closer look at things.”

The Coastal Children’s Museum hopes to offer programs for area schools starting next fall and will have at least one special workshop utilizing the Scope on a Rope a month. To watch the Scope on a Rope in action, the next MicroShow! will be held at the museum Wednesday, Aug. 14, at 2 p.m.