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Time4Learning Demos

Color & Light – Optics For Kids

Contents of Color and Light

Science of Optics
Heat & Light
Language of Color
Lasers & Holograms
Optical Illusions
Sky Lights


Art & Optics: Science and Art Closer Than You Think
Optical technology and the study of light go far back in human culture. Contemporary artists are often quick to adopt new technology, or to absorb its implications. Was it any different then? Why should the use of a tool diminish the value of the art?

Concepts of Light and Color
A set of interactive Java applet tutorials to help you understand how color and light work. Beautifully done. Lots of levers to slide to make changes. From Molecular Expressions.

Cool Cosmos
Here you’ll find pictures, videos, games, educational materials, and more. A fun way to learn all about the “cool” part of the electromagnetic spectrum: infrared light.

Fermilab’s System of Web Pages About Light
Light is great, light is mysterious, light is useful. After all, they say everything started with light. When any revolution has happened in the history of science, light was always there. So it deserves a little attention.

The Light Stuff
Here on Earth the speed of light can change. How? Go to Joe’s Room and see if you can figure it out.

An interactive tour of current research in the materials sciences at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source. For high school students, this site explains how intense light is used for physics research.

Optics: Light at Work – Part I. Part 2 You can order free DVDs from SPIE: Light in Action: Lasers, Cameras & Other Cool Stuff; Optics: Light at Work; and Careers in Optics.

Optics For Kids: Science and Engineering
Some fun and interesting things about OPTICS: the science of LIGHT, and one of the most important fields of PHYSICS. by Bruce Irving, Optical Research Associates.


Chemiluminescence – Light without Heat
To do this experiment, you’ll need some light sticks from a sporting goods store or a necklace from a fair. You’ll watch what happens when you put it in hot water and in your refridgerator.. From Home Experiments by Professor Shakhashiri.

A Modest Chemiluminescence Movie
Glow-in-the-dark chemical reactions you can watch online.

What Makes Fireflies Glow?
Having lucibufagens is so important for survival that one species of firefly that can’t make this chemical acquires it by eating other species that can make it.


Ann under an autumn tree

Chemistry of Autumn Colors
Formerly green leaves turn to brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red. These color changes are the result of transformations in leaf pigments.

Leaf Chromatography
Do this project to see the hidden colors in a green leaf and predict what color it will be in the fall.

Paper Towel Chromatography
Colors makes color! Separate different colors from a marker.

Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?
Chlorophyll Breaks Down. But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.


Optical Society of America Student Center
This is your opportunity to network electronically with OSA members who have expertise in various technical groups and application areas.

Heat & Light

The Infrared Zoo What do animals look like in the infrared? Actually “see” the differences between warm and cold-blooded animals, and learn how animals use fur, blubber and feathers to insulate themselves.

Build a Pizza Box Solar Oven
The sun is hot enough to bake food. Here’s how to make a simple solar oven that gets hot enough to warm up cookies and other treats, like s’mores. It won’t get really hot, though, so you can’t bake things in it and you won’t burn yourself when playing with it. Be sure to have an adult help you with this!

Language of Color

Feng Shui and Color
Response to color symbolism is a response to color preconception, and it is a predetermined response based on literary and psychological ideas about color itself.

Lasers & Holograms

Holography Lasers and Holograms
Learn all about these 3-D photographs. Make them for yourself.


How Glasses Are Made

Up Periscope!
Be able to look over high fences and around corners with this handy device made with a tube and mirrors.

Optical Illusions

Counter-Rotating Spirals Illusion
Stare at the spirals for 20 seconds and then at the pattern on the right. What causes this affect? An optical illusion!

A didactic downloadable moiré demonstration kit
A printable moiré demonstration kit, where each layer is given by a separate PostScript file that can be downloaded and printed on a transparency.

Gallery of Visual Illusions
View and test various illusions by dragging seemingly different objects together or apart.

20 visual illusions, hidden faces, moving yet still graphics.

Op Art
Illusion design works that look like op art. Please note that this page could make you feel sick.


Polarized Light in Nature and Technology Polarization is present in the rainbow, in the hidden color of minerals, in the dance of honeybees, in the flow of molten metal, in the color of beetles, and the gloss of tree leaves at dawn.


Bob Miller’s Light Walk Artist Bob Miller’s “Light Walk” at the Exploratorium is always an eye-opening expereience for students and teachers alike. His unique discoveries will change the way you look at light, shadow, and images

Shadow Dance The purpose of this activity is to experiment with shadows and light sources and to understand the relationship between the angle of illumination and the shadow’s length.

Sky Lights

Sunset/Sunrise Phenomena
Presentation with photos and explanations about all sorts of light effects you see in the sky. By Greg Edwards. Served with his permission April 12, 2016.



Aurora Borealis
What creates these shimmering celestial lights? Information, resources and experiments you can carry out to learn more about the Northern Lights. From Newton’s Apple. Lightning

Lightning in a Pan
Try this easy experiment to make your own miniature version of a lightning bolt.


Building a Rainbow
Young students will enjoy just creating online rainbows. More advanced students can take the whole lab course to understand how rainbows obey the rules of calculus.

The Physics of a Rainbow
A most charming example of chromatic dispersion is a rainbow. When white sunlight is intercepted by a drop of water in the atmosphere, some of the light refracts into the drop, reflects from the drop’s inner surface, and then refracts out of the drop. Sunsets & Blue Skies

Blue Sky – Red Sunset
Why is the sky blue? What makes colorful sunsets? This simple demonstration will show you how these sky colors happen.

What Color is the Sky?
If you are a parent or are old enough to babysit younger relatives there is one question children ask that stumps most adults. It’s what color is the sky or why is the sky blue. This article will tell you why and do it in as simple a way as possible so that the next time a kids ask the question you have a good answer.

Why is the sky blue? Why are sunsets red?
Take a look at light through a prism and notice all the different colors that you can see. Light that looks white to our eyes actually is made up of many different colors. From Optics For Kids.


Color Theory
Artists were fascinated by Newton’s clear demonstration that light alone was responsible for color. An online course on color, vision and art.

Seeing Color
You may ask yourself why is it that we only see the “visible” portion of light?

Web Safe Color Chart – Paired Color Values
Click on a color to lock it as the background. Click on any color to unlock. Place your mouse over a color to see the CSS shorthand value tooltip.


Triboluminescence in Quartz Crystal

Which Wintergreen Candy Sparks the Brightest in the Dark?
In this experiment we will find out which brand of wintergreen candy produces the most sparks in the dark, a process called triboluminescence.

Wintergreen Candy and other Triboluminescent Materials
Go into a closet or other dark room. Take along a mirror and some WintOGreen Lifesavers. Wait for your eyes to adjust and then bite down on the candy real hard while watching in the mirror. If the candy hasn’t gotten soggy, your mouth will glow, and here’s why.