Noah has been hankering after a webcam for use with his viola club of friends on MSN. He's made a few noises about wanting to buy one, but hasn't done the research yet, and I confess I haven't been in a big hurry to facilitate this for him. But last week he managed to tweak our QX3 Digital Microscope into believing it's a webcam. He unplugs the microscope, starts MSN, and then plugs the microscope in while the window is active. He can then send a webcam invitation to whomever he's chatting with at the time. He needed to add some ambient lighting because the USB-powered webcam light is insufficient at a distance of a metre or so, but he discovered that he could get identifiable blurry moving images of his face on the 'net.
Then one night before bed, when he seems to think laterally the best, Noah said "That digital microscope is near-sighted. I wonder if I could make the focus better by giving it glasses. Your old glasses might work, mom -- you're nearsighted."
The next morning, thanks to a lot of sticky tape, he got the microscope wearing glasses, and I'll be darned, the quality of the webcam image he's getting from it has improved two- or three-fold. If I'd been on the ball, I would have offered to order him a cheap webcam weeks ago with his allowance savings. Because I wasn't, he's learning all sorts of things, and now he feels like a successful 'inventor'.