Resources about light and the electromagnetic spectrum


Visible Light

A simple explanation of light on the Ducksters website.

A far more wordy explanation of light on ‘Explain that Stuff’. It covers wave-particle duality, reflection, refraction, diffraction and even ventures into discussing atomic energy levels (although I don’t like their diagram for this part).

How humans and other animals see light

Watch this Minute Physics video about how we see light

Read about how we can tell if animals can see colour, whether dogs are colour blind, and watch a video of how bees see ultra violet.

If you are not completely fed up with the black and blue/white and gold dress, or if you do not use any kind of social media and somehow missed the whole thing, AsapSCIENCE have an explanation for you

Pinhole cameras and Camera Obscura

In our classes we made a great pinhole camera from Pringles tubes, using these instructions from the Exploratorium in San Francisco, which also include a short explanation of what is happening.

My children now want to make a walk-in camera obscura. If you get a chance to walk into a room-sized Camera Obscura please take it!

Photographer Robyn Stacey has a Camera Obscura exhibition in the Museum of Brisbane running until 3 April 2016. Educators resources are here (pdf).

Ultraviolet light

Watch this video of corals fluorescing under actinic lights.

Read this explanation of fluorescence.

If you can cope with the strange voiceover, this video from Nurd Rage explaining fluorescence is great and has better energy-level diagrams than the ‘Explain that Stuff’ page I linked to before.

Electromagnetic spectrum

Watch Hank on SciShow talk about radiation (which might not mean what you think it means).

Reflection and refraction

Watch Bill Nye explaining refraction

or watch this Minute Physics video about the speed of light in glass

‘Light powered’ Rube Goldberg machine (video)

360 degree periscope instructions from the Science Museum in London.

How to make glass disappear in a liquid.

Why is the sky blue?

Try these light experiments at home from Dr How’s Science Wows, and if you want more, read this explanation from Science Made Simple.

Is the sky blue?

Read about one linguist’s investigation into how language shapes the way we see our world.


If you, or your children, want to understand how lasers work there is a clear and elegant explanation here on the NASA Spaceplace website. (R)

Laser maze

The maze we used in class is this one produced by ThinkFun.

You can also try the Laser Logic 3D app for Android or iOS.


A few links about laser safety (laser pointers and laser shows)

More activities related to light

For more activities related to light see Optics4Kids

and watch this video about how modern light bulbs work


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