An engaging investigation into the colourful properties of light. Create rainbows, use chromatography to separate colour in ink, mix colour with light filters and test a whole host of optical instruments.
Level: Suitable for Foundation to Level 2.
Duration: Available in a 60 or 90 minute format. We recommend a 90 minute format if budget and timetabling constraints allow.
Numbers: Each workshop can cater to a maximum of 30 children. However, smaller groups have better access to equipment and the facilitator.
State: VIC, NSW, ACT & QLD
Light is very important – we need it to see, and we need it to grow plants for food.
We need a source of light to be able to see. Our eyes detect light (that is, they do not produce it).
Not being able to see is disorienting.
Light is a form of energy that travels in waves. Light travels faster than anything else in the Universe.
The light we see (visible light) is called ‘white light’ and is made up of a spectrum of colours that we call ‘the rainbow’. Prisms and raindrops split white light into its colours.
When white light hits an object, some colours in the light are absorbed by the object and some colours are reflected by the object. This is the colour that we see.
Colours can be pure colours or they can be mixtures. Mixtures of coloured pigment (dyes or inks) can be separated by a process called ‘chromatography’.
The three primary colours of light are blue, green and red. This is different from pigment primary colours which are red, yellow and blue. We can mix these three light and pigment colours to make other colours.
Transparent objects let lots of light through. Translucent objects let some light through. Opaque objects let no light through. Opaque objects cast a shadow.
A lens bends light as it travels through it. This is called refraction. Many optical instruments such as eyeglasses, microscopes and telescopes all use lenses.
Light travels in straight lines called rays. A mirror has a smooth, shiny surface that the light bounces off. This is called reflection.
Students perform a series of physical tasks whilst blindfolded, to experience the disorientation of being deprived of sight.
Demonstration of the splitting of white light into the spectrum by a prism.
Each student experiences the diffraction of white light into the spectrum through a diffraction grating.
In pairs, students conduct a simple chromatography experiment to separate the mixture of colours found in black ink.
Demonstration of the formation of white light via mixing the rainbow spectrum, and the mixing of primary colours to form secondary colours.
Students use filters and light sources to mix the three primary colours of light to make secondary colours.
Demonstration of how lenses bend light and make images.
Students explore a range of optical instruments that have mirrors and lenses, such as a microscope, telescope, praxinoscope and periscope.
90 minute workshops also include these activities:
Students make a simple optical illusion toy to keep.
Victorian Curriculum Links
Light and sound are produced by a range of sources and can be sensed (VCSSU049)
Light from a source forms shadows and can be absorbed, reflected and refracted (VCSSU080)
Participate in guided investigations, including making observations using the senses, to explore and answer questions (VCSIS051)
NSW Curriculum Links
Describes common forms of energy and explores some characteristics of sound energy (ST1-8PW-S)
Questions, plans and conducts scientific investigations, collects and summarises data and communicates using scientific representations (ST2-1WS-S)
Australian Curriculum Links
Light and sound are produced by a range of sources and can be sensed (ACSSU020)
Light from a source forms shadows and can be absorbed, reflected and refracted (ACSSU080)
Participate in guided investigations, to explore and answer questions (ACSIS025)