My sons are obsessed with science experiments right now. I figure what better time to do a little experimenting with light than around Groundhog Day, right? Light is one of eight forms of energy. The other forms are heat, sound, chemical, magnetic, nuclear, electrical, and mechanical. Here are a few ideas to study light as a form of energy.
Light Energy with Kids
This activity is one of my favorites. Grab a few pieces of chalk on a reasonably sunny day. Go out to your driveway or sidewalk. Have the child stand still and have his shadow traced by you or another friend. Do this activity a few times throughout the day and make observations. You should see the shadow keep the same shape but change the size. The size depends on the angle of the sun.
All you need is a lamp, a piece of white card stock, and a small object. We used a small figuring. Hold the figurine between the lamp and the piece of yardstick. Move it. Observe the shadow. The shadow changes when the object moves.
Grab your magnifying glass and a piece of blank white paper. Move the magnifying glass close to the paper and away from the paper. Note what happens on the paper. The light on the paper should change sizes.
Upside Down Light
This activity is classic. You need light and a big spoon. The light on the inside of the spoon is concave. The light on the other side of the spoon is convex. Note your observations. The reflection on the concave side of the spoon should be upside down.
Up High Light
You need a bowl of water. Use a tray to catch the water that may spill over the sides of the bowl. Place the bowl in the sun's light. What do you see on the ceiling? The light reflects on the ceiling and appears to dan cease the water moves in the bowl.
Make a Rainbow
Having a prism is worth it purely for educational purposes. Hold the prism to the sunlight and move it around. A rainbow should appear and move with the prism. The white sunlight is separated into the spectrum of colors (red, orange, yellow, blue, green, purple). Rain acts like a prism in nature as it reflects the sunlight. You can make a rainbow by using a pan of water in bright sunlight and a small mirror. Place the mirror on the inside of the pan of water and over it until you see a rainbow nearby. Call this your DIY prism.
One of my all time favorite activities to show children. Grab a glass of water (filled half way) and a pencil. Place the pencil in the water and watch it appear to bend.
This experiment is on my “to-do” list. You need a quart sized milk carton, 2 small mirrors, tape, and scissors. Cut the side of the milk carton so it is still attached on one side and fold it back like a door. Take the two small mirrors inside slanting facing each other. Cut two small holes in the carton. Tape the flap/door back to hold its place. Look through the small holes. What do you see? Amazing results with this experiment. You can see around corners. Light travels in a straight line. It reflects odd the mirrors, which enables you to see around corners.
That is a good start for a study of Light Energy for Kids! How do you study light energy with kids?