Science Activity: Spectacular Spectrums
Light is stranger than you might think. Light from the sun, a flashlight, or almost any other source consists of many different colors- but you usually can't see them. In this activity, you'll experiment with ways to break up ordinary light to make its invisible colors visible!
1. Get Ready
Flashlight ( A MAG-LITE, an EXCELL, or another brand of focused-beam flashlight will work best, but others will work, too.)
Audiocassette case made of clear plastic
Clear plastic cup or glass
Two sheets of white paper
Large assortment of colored markers or crayons
Stack of books taller than flashlight
2. Do and Wonder
In this activity, you'll try to break apart white light. To do that, you'll aim a beam of light through water in one container and then another and try to capture the spectrum each produces on a sheet of white paper. Your partner will use colored markers or crayons to draw each spectrum.
Shining Light through a Glass Containing Water
Move the table so it's against the wall. Then arrange the books on the table so they're stacked flat against the wall. Fill the glass about three-fourths full with water. Set it on top of the stack of books so part of the glass is over the edge.
Darken the room.
Your partner should be prepared to tape a sheet of white paper to the wall where the spectrum is produced.
Turn on the flashlight and hold it close to the part of the glass that extends over the edge of the book stack. Move the flashlight back and forth and up and down until you see a pattern of color somewhere on the wall or floor. (The pattern won't be very large and will probably be at the edge of a circle of white light.)
Your partner should tape the paper on the wall where the pattern appears. Then he or she should take a minute to memorize the colors int he spectrum and how they're arranged.
When your partner is ready to draw, turn the lights back on. After he or she has finished drawing, turn the lights off again and check the pattern and colors. Do this a few times to make sure the drawing of the spectrum matches what you see on the wall.
© ______ 2000, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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