100 Educational Activities about Light and Photonics

Learn about the wonders of light and photonics by using these 100 educational activities.

All activities have been curated by Silvia Simionato and Pedro Russo from the Universe Awareness Programme (UNAWE) based at Leiden University within the framework of The International Year of Light in Europe 2015 Project (LIGHT2015).

How Things Work

Age: 6+

Learning Objectives

Prove the fact that many of the current video displays, newspapers and magazines use pictures made up of little dots.

Comments

Explain the concept of objects' resolution and connect with the fact that many of the current video displays use the concept of additive colour, where three different colours of light are combined in order to produce a wide range of colours. The primary colors often used are red, green, and blue (RGB).

Link: http://www.exploratorium.edu/bts/activities/activity4.html

Credits: exploratorium.edu

How to Make a Sundial

Age: 6+

Learning Objectives

Build your own sundial.

Comments

CAUTION! Do not look into the Sun!
A sundial is an ancient device for measuring time by using only the sun and its shadows.

For help see the video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcL2f-KInWI

Link: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Sundial

Credits: wikihow.com

Investigating Shadows

Age: 6+

Learning Objectives

Understand what shadow is and explore some of the features of shadows.

Comments

Go further in the topic discussing the use of several light sources and considering the distance of objects from the source.

Link: http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/optics/activities/students/investigatingshadows.html

Credits: http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/

Learn About Plants - Photosynthesis Experiment 1

Age: 6+

Learning Objectives

Oxygen bubbles: a simple experiment to understand the connection between photosynthesis and light.

Comments

This is a video, just follow the instructions and reproduce the  experiment.
Explain photosynthesis in advance. For help see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnzKdpHGzEc

Credits:  Appu Series

Learn About Plants - Photosynthesis Experiment 2

Age: 6+

Learning Objectives:

Why leaves are green: a simple experiment to understand the connection between photosynthesis and light.

Comments

This is a video, just follow the instructions and reproduce the  experiment.
Explain photosynthesis in advance. For help see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEn9oDfDfMw

Credits: Appu Series

Light Mixing

Age: 6+

Learning Objectives

Learn the concept of additive colour, which is how different colours of light can interact and mix to produce various new colours.

Comments

Connect with the fact that many of the current video displays, such as a computer monitor or TV, use the concept of additive colour, where three different colours of light are combined in order to produce a wide range of colours. The primary colors often used are red, green, and blue (RGB).
A potentiometer can be added into the circuit in order to control the amount of current fed into the LED.

Link: http://www.optics4kids.org/home/content/classroom-activities/medium/light-mixing/

Credits: optics4kids.org

Light Scavengers

Age: 6+

Learning Objectives

Understand how different materials interact with light.

Comments

Investigate five characteristics of materials: translucency, transparency, opaqueness, reflectivity and refractivity. Explain these characteristics and the respective behaviour of light in advance.

Link: http://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/cub_/activities/cub_soundandlight/cub_soundandlight_lesson6_activity1.xml

Credits: teachengineering.org

Liquid Crystal IR Detector

Age: 6+

Learning Objectives

Experiment with one method of detecting infrared radiation.

Comments

This is a simulation of infrared radiation detection using a liquid crystal sheet.
Explain that infrared telescopes have a detector sensitive to infrared light.
Before doing the activity explain that light is composed by different colours, some of them are visible and other invisible.  It contains light from the ultraviolet, visible and infrared regions.

Link: http://www.exploratorium.edu/spectra_from_space/IR_activity/

Credits: exploratorium.edu

Make a Green Gumball Black

Age: 6+

Learning Objectives

Understand that we see, for instance, red objects because the red light is reflected back to our eyes. All the other colours of visible light are absorbed into the object.

Comments     

Analyse what happens to the objects' colours if we use coloured light (filters) instead of white light.

Link:   http://www.optics4kids.org/home/content/classroom-activities/easy/make-a-green-gumball-black/

Credits: optics4kids.org

Make Your Own Periscope

Age: 6+

Learning Objectives

Learn how mirrors and reflection work in a simple periscope.

Comments

CAUTION! Sharp tools! Ask an adult to do all the cutting.
Explain law of reflection and how mirrors work in advance.

Link: http://www.unawe.org/activity/eu-unawe1318/

Credits: UNAWE