Light dispersion experiments are very appealing to children. This is because the properties of light seem magical to enquiring minds. Always allow the children to have hands-on experience where possible and safe. Discovering something for themselves is likely to be more exciting and educationally worthwhile.
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Make a rainbow
According to Creative Kids At Home, you can do a light dispersion experiment for kids where you create a rainbow. When the sun is shining into the room, carefully place a glass of water on the edge of a table. Catch the sunlight with the glass and the water will disperse the light. Place a piece of white paper on the floor. You should see a rainbow.
According to The Star Garden, Isaac Newton discovered that every colour in the spectrum has its own angle of refraction. Replicate Newton’s prism experiments by shining light through a prism in a darkened room. Allow the children to discover the best angles for light dispersion. Give the children two prisms and challenge them to split the light into a spectrum, then recompose it back into white light.
Bend light with a jelly
According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), you can bend light with a jelly. Make a stiff jelly using only half the amount of water stated on the pack. Let it set in a mould. Tip it out and cut different shaped lenses from it. Shine light through the different lenses with a torch to see how they disperse light in various ways.
Provide the children with a tank of water, liquid soap, water in a sprayer, safe mirrors, CD-ROMs and clear glass marbles. Ask them to experiment and discover other examples of light dispersion. To create a larger rainbow, take the children outside into a large space on a sunny, slightly windy day. With the children at a safe distance, use a hose pipe to spray a jet of water into the air. As the wind scatters the water droplets and the sun’s rays shine through them, a rainbow is formed.
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