Recently I shared a number of activities that you can do with your children to explore properties of light: Reflection, Refraction, and Spectrum. Today I wanted to give you a link for each of them and give you one more activity that involves all 3 of the properties that we have covered.
Here are my past posts on the properties of light:
- Reflection: Game – This post highlights a great strategy game that uses lasers and mirrored pieces. You can buy it for less than $30.
- Double Reflection – An easy, but interesting, activity that you can do in a few minutes with 2 mirrors.
- Refraction – A fun little trick that uses refraction to make a penny disappear. All you need is a glass, a penny, and water.
- Refraction and Invisible Crystals – For this you need special crystals (about $13), but it is worth it for the amazing effect. These crystals become invisible in water.
- Spectrum with a Prism – A discussion of why a prism is able to split light into the spectrum. Prisms are fun and are less than $10. This is also another example of refraction.
Today’s New Activity: Creating a Spectrum without a Prism
- Small Mirror
Fill a bowl with water and put the mirror in. Angle the mirror at about 30 degrees.
Now shine the flashlight at the mirror. Bring the light down close to the surface of the water. You should get a spectrum on the ceiling.
How does it work?
The light refracts as it enters the water. Then it reflects off of the mirror. Finally it makes a spectrum on the ceiling.
(As the light goes out of the water, it probably refracts again as it exits the water, but the light is exiting nearly perpendicular to the water, so it won’t refract much)
Not Working? Try changing the angle of the mirror and the height of the flashlight. Also turn out the lights so that you can see it better. At first our spectrum was not as good, but with adjusting the mirror and the light, we got good results.
Often times we learn the most when it does not work right away. But after experimenting and/or doing a little research, we learn more than if it had worked the first time. So do not be discouraged if an activity does not work. Keep trying or ask for some help in the comment section.