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Light and Kaleidoscopes

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Physics Volunteer Activities
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Physics Volunteer Activities
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Learn about light and build a Kaleidoscope

What You Need

For each child:

  • 1 piece of cardstock
  • 1 pin
  • 2 pieces of transparent see-through plastic
  • 1 piece of dura-lar shiny, mirror-like material
  • Tools: tape, scissors, glue

Instructions:

Safety Notes

Be careful not to poke yourself with the pin - ask an adult to help if needed. The markers are permanent so be sure to put a paper under your transparent pieces before colouring. Do not write on your skin with the markers or put the markers in your mouth.

What To Do

Before building your kaleioscope, take the mirror material and look into it. Can you see your reflection? Try gently folding the mirror material in different ways (don’t press on the fold to make a crease). Can you see more than one copy of yourself? Can you see yourself upside down? The angle or the way light hits the mirror and then bounces or reflects back to you can make you see more copies of yourself, see yourself taller or shorter, or upside down.

  • Glue the piece of mirror material on the back of the piece of cardstock. Note: If you don't have glue, you can use tape but cut the mirror material to fit the size of the cardstock first.
  • Take the two pieces of transparent see-through material and the markers and colour the transparent materials with the different colours. Colour all over both pieces. You can make a pattern or not. Be sure the whole transparent material has colour on it.
  • Using scissors, trim the mylar from the cardstock. Ask an adult to help if you need help cutting.
  • Fold the cardstock on the dotted lines so the mirror material is on the inside and tape it into a triangular prism.
  • Remove the pin carefully from the cardboard and push the pin through the middle of one of the coloured transparent pieces.
  • Then push the pin through one corner of the second coloured transparent piece.
  • Tape the pin with the coloured pieces to the triangular cardstock. Put at least two piece of tape - one to cover the sharp end of the pin and one closer to where the cardstock meets the transparent materials to hold it on tight.
  • Look through your kaleidoscope.

Discovery

What's Happening?

Transparent materials allow light to travel through them. Light bounces off reflective objects like the mirror material. Light comes from the source of light in the room, through the transparent, coloured material to our eye. Inside the kaleidoscope the light is reflected off the mirror material many times to produce the beautiful images in your kaleidoscope.

What's Happening?

Transparent materials allow light to travel through them. Light bounces off reflective objects like the mirror material. Light comes from the source of light in the room, through the transparent, coloured material to our eye. Inside the kaleidoscope the light is reflected off the mirror material many times to produce the beautiful images in your kaleidoscope.

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