Outreach Workshop: Light and Optics
Shed a new light on science in this interactive workshop. Learn how to use the scientific method to explore what we know about the nature of light.
$300 - Includes two 50-minute workshops. Additional workshops $125 each.
Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations, Science v.1.09
- Identify light and sound as forms of energy. (P.EN.03.11)
- Demonstrate that light travels in a straight path and that shadows are made by placing an object in a path of light. (P.EN.03.21)
- Observe what happens to light when it travels from air to water (a straw half in water and half in the air looks bent). (P.EN.03.22)
- Explain how we need light to see objects: lights from a source reflects off objects and enters our eyes. (P.PM.03.52)
Light and Optics Pre-visit Vocabulary
Absorb: To take in or become part of.
Concave: Rounded inward like the inside of a bowl.
Convex: Rounded outward like a circle.
Diffraction Grating: Parallel lines closely spaced that separated white light.
Energy: Ability to change the temperature, motion, or makeup of an object.
Lens: Curved glass used to bend light.
Opaque: Substance that allows no light to pass through.
Prism: Triangular solid used to refract or bend white light into the colors of the rainbow.
Radiometer: Instrument used to detect energy.
Reflect: Bounce off.
Refract: Bending of light rays.
Translucent: Substance that allows some light to pass through.
Transparent: Substance that allows all light to pass through. You can see clearly through transparent materials.
Light and Optics Post-visit Activity
Post-visit activities provide your students with an opportunity to review workshop-presented concepts and introduce related subjects. Below you will find a classroom extension activity and a list of suggested resources for further exploration. We hope that you enjoyed our Outreach Hands-On Workshop and we look forward to visiting your students again!
Hands-on Activity: Path of Light
Materials (per group of 2)
- Four 3"x5" or 5"x8" index cards
- Paper punch
- Use the paper punch to punch a hole in the center of each card.
- Fold the short sides of the card back so it can stand up on the long side.
- Place cards about 6 inches apart, with the holes lined up.
- Have one student shine the flashlight into the hole in the first card. Have the other student hold their hand behind the 4th card.
- Does the light shine on their hand? How did it get there?
- Now move one of the cards a little bit to the side. Repeat step 4.
- What do you see now? What does this tell you about the path light travels?
Light always travels in a straight line. When the holes in the cards are lined up, the straight line of light can go through them. When you move one card to the side, the light can not pass through the hole.
Burnie, David. Eyewitness Books: Light. DK Publishing. 1992.
Doherty, Paul. The Magic Wand and Other Bright Experiments on Light and Color. The Exploratorium Science Snack Book Series. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 1995.
Primarily Physics: Investigations in Sound, Light and Heat Energy Grades K–3. AIMS Education Foundation. 1994.
Science Made Simple Grades 1–6. Frank Schaffer Productions, CA. 1997.
Tolman, Marvin N. Hands-On Physical Science Activities for Grades 2–8. Parker Publishing Company, Inc., NY. 1995.
Zubrowski, Bernie. Mirrors: Finding Out About the Properties of Light. William Morrow and Company. 1992.