Exploring the Science of Light
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Easy Activities

These experiments explore the basic concepts of light and color. They will help you understand how light travels and how color and light interact with each other to produce amazing results. Activities in this section are suitable for scientists five and older. No matter your age, if you are just beginning your exploration of the science light, you should start here. Once you understand the concepts and master these activities, host a science fair!

Black is Black — Or is it?

Blue Sky — Red Sunset

Glowing Tonic

Make a Green Gumball Black - A red object appears red because it reflects mostly red light back to your eyes. All the other colors of visible light are absorbed into the object. But what can make a green gumball black?

Make Money Appear Before Your Eyes - If light meets a boundary between two materials head on, what happens?. When it strikes the boundary between transparent materials at an angle, what does this do to light? How do these things relate to making money appear and disappear?

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Angles of Reflection - Have you ever wondered why you can see your face in a mirror? This occurs because mirrors are very smooth and shiny. Light bounces, or reflects, off of the smooth and shiny surface of mirrors. When you see your face in a mirror you are seeing light from your face reflecting off of the mirror.

Mix and Match

Physicist Coloring Book

Release the Rainbow - In this activity, you will create a water prism to break light into the seven colors of the rainbow.

Spinning Your (Color) Wheels

Watch TV Upside Down on a Piece of Paper - You can make an image with your magnifying glass of almost anything: a window with the sun shining through it, a tree outside in your yard, or even the dog in your neighbor’s yard. However, these are rather boring things to look at, especially when your home contains something much more entertaining. One of the greatest image-generating sources in your house is the television set.

What Causes Rainbows? - Everyone has seen a rainbow. They are arguably one of the most beautiful displays of nature, and they seem to come in many different sizes, situations and settings. But what is a rainbow? If you ask, most people will say that a rainbow is "light going through raindrops or something". This is correct, but it's not the complete answer. In this activity we will learn how and why rainbows form and how you can make one yourself.

Why Are Bubbles So Colorful? - Just a little soapy water and a ring through which to blow the soap film is all you need. Even on the soapy film you can see the patterns and colors change. Then as the bubbles float in the air, we can see colors swirling and swimming across the almost perfectly spherical surface. Why do we see these colors and why do they change? We may have seen similar patterns and colors on an oil slick on the road. How in the world could such ugly stuff as motor oil be so colorful? In this activity we'll examine this strange phenomenon and how we can experience it throughout nature. We'll also examine what thin slits do to light and how this phenomenon is similar to that of bubbles and oil slicks.

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