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Light Activities

Activities that explore light visible to our eyes and other wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum.

Light plays a central role in our lives. The electromagnetic (EM) spectrum includes wavelengths ranging from radio waves, microwaves, infrared, the visible spectrum that we perceive as light, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays. The main source of visible light on the Earth is our Sun, which provides virtually all the energy used by living things. These activities and resources cover some of the different ways we interact with and use light. 

International Day of Light - May 16 UNESCO resources 

Featured Short hands-on activities

Search for more on light and optics
Liquid crystal handprint

Exploring Materials - Liquid Crystals

In this activity, learners will investigate the properties of a heat sensitive liquid crystal and make their own liquid crystal sensor to take home.
Liquid crystal display activity components including signs, guides, craft materials, safety gear, and liquid crystal material

Exploring Products - Liquid Crystal Displays

In this activity, learners investigate temperature-sensitive liquid crystal sheets and liquid crystal displays from a calculator.
Girl looking at objects in a beaker filled with liquid that appear to be invisible

Exploring Properties - Invisibility

In this activity, learners investigate how glass objects can be "hidden" in some liquids through refraction.
Exploring Products - Sunblock activity components like the construction paper, swabs, and sunblock.

Exploring Products - Sunblock

In this activity, learners compare sunblock containing nanoparticles to ointment.

Exploring Nano & Society - Invisibility Cloak

In this activity, learners explore how refraction can be used to make a glass stir rod "disappear" in a cup of baby oil, while having conversations about new technologies.
Materials for Exploring Properties - UV Bracelets NanoDays activity including beads and light source

Exploring Properties - UV Bracelets

In this activity, learners use ultraviolet light to change the color of beads that contain photochromic dye.
Exploring Materials - Thin Films activity components including signs, activity materials and guides.

Exploring Materials - Thin Films

In this activity, learners create a colorful bookmark using a super thin layer of nail polish on water.
Exploring Structures - Butterfly activity - two children looking at Blue Morpho butterfly

Exploring Structures - Butterfly

In this activity, learners investigate how some butterfly wings get their color and that some wings get their color from the nanoscale structures on the wings instead of pigments.

Exploring Materials - Nano Gold

In this activity, learners discover that nanoparticles of gold can appear red, orange or even blue.

Exploring Tools - 3D Imaging

In this activity, learners use 3D glasses to discover what ordinary objects look like under magnification.
Exploring Properties - Capillary Action activity components including signs, activity materials and guides.

Exploring Properties - Capillary Action

In this activity, learners explore how liquids flow in narrow spaces.
hands holding up colored filters in Filtered Light activity

Exploring the Universe: Filtered Light

In this activity, learners discover how colored filters can help reveal more about an image and we can use light and filters to learn more about an object.
Stained Glass Window activity components like signs, contact paper, guides, and craft supplies.

Exploring Materials - Stained-Glass Windows

In this activity, learners use contact paper and colored tissue paper to create a "nanoparticle stained-glass" window.

Nanoparticle Stained Glass (cart demo)

In this activity, learners make a collaborative stained glass window and a take-away card with pre-made nanoparticle solutions containing silver or gold
Exploring Earth: Temperature Mapping

Exploring Earth: Temperature Mapping

In this activity, learners model the way Landsat satellites use a thermal infrared sensor to measure land surface temperatures.
Children using solar viewer outdoors using Observe the Sun activity

Exploring the Solar System: Observe the Sun

In this activity, learners safely view the Sun and study features on its face, via a solarscope.
polarizers and transparent tape

Exploring Materials - Polarizers

In this activity, learners experiment how polarizers affect light by using two polarizing sheets and overlapping layers of transparent tape.

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