Scavenger Hunt! Understanding Opaque, Translucent, and Transparent

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Updated on Apr 24, 2013

If you look around your house you will see items made from various materials. Items can be classified by the way they interact with light. Materials that allow most all light to pass through them are called transparent. Examples of transparent items are glass, water, and air. Those materials that allow some light to pass through them are called translucent and include things like frosted glass and wax paper. If an object does not allow any light to pass through it then it is opaque. Most objects are opaque and include things made of wood, stone, and metal.


What is the difference between opaque, translucent and transparent?


  • Flashlight
  • Wax paper
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tissue paper
  • Styrofoam plates
  • Clear plastic lids
  • Colored plastic lids
  • Any item that can be classified as opaque, translucent, and transparent.


  1. Look around your house for one object made out of wood (opaque), clear glass, (transparent), and frosted glass (translucent). Shine a flashlight beam through each item and observe what happens to the light. Draw a diagram of what you observe.
  2. Once you understand the difference between opaque, transparent, and translucent go on a scavenger hunt of your house! You can gather items then use your flashlight to test them OR you can take your flashlight with you and test the items as you find them.
  3. Compile a list of your findings.
Angela Pike has been in the world of elementary education for almost a decade, working as a classroom teacher, school writing specialist, and later a school administrator. After a recent leave from the education realm to stay at home with her children, she channeled her passion for education, science, and writing into a composing articles and educational activities for various companies.

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