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).

Give and Take

Age: 8+

Learning Objectives

Understand that dark-coloured materials both absorb and reemit energy contained in light (visible and infrared light) more readily than light-coloured materials.

Comments

Explain the concept of light spectrum and of energy contained in light before doing the activity.

Link: http://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/give_and_take/index.html

Credits: exploratorium.edu

Herschel Infrared Experiment

Age: 8+

Learning Objectives

Learn that every colour (visible or invisible) which composes white light has its own temperature. From this experiment we can prove the existence of IR light.

Comments

Before doing the activity introduce the concept of wavelength and explain that light coming from the sun or white light is made up of a large range of wavelengths (and colours - some of them are visible and other invisible). It contains light from the ultraviolet, visible and infrared regions.

Link: http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/cosmic_classroom/classroom_activities/herschel_experiment2.html

Credits: IPAC, NASA

How to Make a Hologram

Age: 8+

Learning Objectives

Learn about holography and make a 3D hologram.

Comments

CAUTION! Do not look into the laser cavity or at any reflections of the laser from shiny surfaces. Adult supervision is necessary!

Explain holography (with interference and diffraction) in advance.

For help and examples see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holography
http://kids.britannica.com/elementary/art-88729/Holography-uses-no-camera
http://web.mit.edu/museum/collections/holography.html

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

Credits: wikihow.com

How to Build a Solar Collector

Age: 8+

Learning Objectives

Understand how light can be used to heat water and build a homemade solar collector.

Comments

For more information about solar water heating and solar collectors see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_water_heating
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_collector
http://www.green-the-world.net/passive_solar_water_heater.html

Link: http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Solar-Collector

Credits: wikihow.com

How to Build a Homemade Radiometer

Age: 8+

Learning Objectives

Understand how a radiometer works and build a homemade Crookes radiometer.

Comments

For more information about Crookes radiometer see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crookes_radiometer

Link: http://www.ehow.com/how_12186568_build-homemade-radiometer.html

Credits: ehow.com

Interference in a Ripple Tank

Age: 8+

Learning Objectives

Understand what happens when waves collide in a Ripple Tank and learn interference of light.

Comments

This is a simulation of light wave behaviour using waves in water. Before doing the activity introduce the concept of wavelength and explain that light  is made up of several wavelengths. Possible connection with the wave–particle duality of light.
If in need of help for the Ripple Tank see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripple_tank.

Link: http://www.optics4kids.org/home/content/classroom-activities/advanced/interference-in-a-ripple-tank/

Credits: optics4kids.org

Laser Target Shoot

Age: 8+

Learning Objectives

Understand the law of reflection using laser and mirrors.

Comments

CAUTION! Do not look into the laser cavity or at any reflections of the laser from shiny surfaces.

Link: http://www.osa.org/osaorg/media/osa.media/Membership/Explorations-in-Optics-July-2103.pdf

Credits: OSA

Lens Activity: Looking Through Lenses

Age: 8+

Learning Objectives

Learn the refraction law of light and understand how different types of lenses work.

Comments

In this activity two kinds of lenses are discussed, convex and concave and their properties.

Link: http://www.optics4kids.org/home/content/classroom-activities/medium/lens-activity-looking-through-lenses/

Credits: optics4kids.org

Look Into Infinity

Age: 8+

Learning Objectives

Understand the law of reflection and see how Images of images of images can repeat forever.

Comments

Introduce the law of reflection before performing this activity.

Link: http://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/look_into_infinity/index.html

Credits: exploratorium.edu

Magic Wand

Age: 8+

Learning Objectives

Understand how we see with this activity by seeing pictures in thin air thanks to a "magic wand".

Comments

This activity will help you investigate and understand how we see.
Explain the behaviour of light and its properties in advance. Discuss how our eyes work.

Link: http://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/magic_wand/index.html

Credits: exploratorium.edu