Nicholasgrant S12

Nicholas's Site

I decided that I would blend a humanity or art like music with Science.

Nicholas is proud to present The Science of Music…

Also known as Exploratorium: music home
where one can try out the cool Dot Mixer

Light and Optics: Shedding Shadows from Our Incomprehensible World

The History

Optics, from the Greek, Optikos means “of the eye or seeing”.
Greek engineer Hero (A.D. 20?) believed that light acted like "feelers" like antenna sent out from the eyes to detect what we see. Around the turn of the first millennium, the scientist Alhazen, born in Basra of present day Iraq, was the first to write about light coming from a source whether from the sun or the burning lamp oil. Thomas Edison has been credited for making the first commercialized incandescent light bulb. Scientists have studied light for thousands of years to only recently find it can be measured in both particles and waves!
Lasers read into bits and bites of information on CDs which then plays music on a stereo or computer. Also, this high frequency light source can make credit cards difficult to read by creating holograms a complicated three-dimensional image on the surface of the card.

Through experimentation they found that light can be blocked, bent, bounced, broken up, caught, filtered, and scattered. Everything that we do with light reveals something about its nature.

-Vicci & Josh Cobb

Overview of my theme

The study of light is a physical science, yet we also can see how life certainly responds to it with the human body's sensory organs of the skin and the eyes. My essential goal for this unit will be to fashion an in-depth study looking at the eye and the patterns of light that we see to demonstrate that science has been constructed over time, not predictable, and always changing with our understandings. I hope that allowing the children to explore and build on their perceptions of the physical world will transition into life science and a study of the nervous system. Now, if there is someone who happens to have partial blindness or some type of disability in that arena then I will need to focus on the pathways of energy like light transferring heat into a dark material. The most essential focus will not be dislodged; we will integrate arrow patterns and wave patterns that are tangible and can be sensed in different ways.




  • Mythology involving the sun (Mayan, Egyptian, Native American, etc.)
  • Benefits and disadvantages of radiation to living beings: photosynthesis, production of vitamin D, cycles like circadian rhythms, organs like the eyes can view objects and skin can sense heat
  • Creatively assessing ideas in discussions about how light affects everyone through some source (like the stars) and can be investigated through observational activities, controlled experiments, and optical illusions (even!).
  • “Perception is learned.” Richard Gregory, University of Bristol, England
  • Introductory Activities involving shadow puppetry, ray makers/light boxes, diffuse reflectors, and an outdoor plant study
  • Build a laser
  • Students can create a flash animation or draw out their concepts of light movement from the preliminary experiment.
Group projects with suggested studies of:
  • magnets and polarization of current
  • Galileo Galilei (The kids will make their own telescope)
  • Speed of Light
  • Index of Refraction
  • Illusions with a light source
  • Semiconductors and lasers
  • Collimator and Focus (like with binoculars)
  • The way we see and how the brain processes it

Slices From A Tin Can

Following my existential style of teaching, the children will be able to "free lance" study. Indeed, they will explore the nature of light with a variety of tools and materials where the kids will learn how to make the tools and contraptions to build on their understandings to create their own elaborate experiments. We will jog through the concepts piece by piece and brainstorm using webs and/or charts, and the kids will play to discover things that we would not find under my direction. One example of this happening was at Explore Your World Day with a child about six years in age shining a beam of light through two different angled convex mirrors to spread out the light spectrum rainbow on the wall behind the light box. I want the children to explore receptive fields to see the natural view on perception as part of the brain deciphering the code stimulated on retinal cells. So, we will have inquiry inspired by optical illusions and have arguments on why we see colors. The kids' excitement at telling a story about a woman or man with x-ray vision will lead us to discussions about whether or not people could evolve to see other wavelengths on the magnetic spectrum. I would even tell a story about how the sun turns into a white dwarf star (not scientifically possible from our star's stage), and how bats would then gain vision to see in that high intensity or ultra-frequency light. The rays of the sun would be like death rays! Thus, all organisms including humans that were able to see became blind in a few seconds.


Umbra, Penumbra, Opaque, Translucent, Refraction, Ray, Photons, Displacement

LASER acronym, Convex, Concave

Pardon me. I will write down the references soon

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