Last week we made our own rainbows to learn about color, but this week we wanted to get even more hand-on.
This build your own prism activity is an easy way to show light refraction and dispersion.
Sunlight, or white light, is made up of all the colors of the rainbow. You just can’t see them because they’re all overlapping and jumbled up.
Sunlight traveling through the air can be absorbed by objects or bounce off of them. We see the light that reflects off of objects!
Sometimes, the light will also pass through an object. When light moves from the air to another material, like glass or water, it slows down and is forced to change directions. This is called refraction.
Each color of the rainbow corresponds to a different wavelength of light, and each wavelength slows down at a slightly different rate. This means that ever wavelength bends at a slightly different angle. In other words, each color of the rainbow slows down and bends at a slightly different angle. This happens just enough for the colors to separate. This process is called dispersion.
Prisms are a great tool for demonstrating refraction and dispersion, but sometimes it’s easier to understand a concept when you can touch it and feel it.
We created models of prisms and light using simple household materials to practice the concept of light refraction and dispersion. This made a difficult concept easy to see, and it got busy hands involved.
To make your own prism model, you’ll need these materials:
Yarn or ribbon in 6 or 7 colors (we only found 1 shade of purple – so it was standing in as indigo and violet together)
Here’s how to make it:
First punch one hole at the top of your plate and the same number of holes at the opposite end of your plate to correspond to each color of your yarn.
Tie your yarn pieces together at the top so they’re hanging freely from the top of the plate. All of the colors mixed together represents white light.
Now separate each color into the holes at the bottom of your plate. Make it more challenging by getting the colors in proper order.
We kept our plates blank for the added challenge of getting the colors in the right order by memory, but you could also label each of your holes.
No prism? No problem! Just make your own prism with this simple model and learn about color.
Keep the innovation going at home with the free How to Build a Robot from A To Z digital picture book and printable paper robot building kit. Follow along with Rosie from ribbons & robots as she takes you on an imaginative journey of building your very own robot all the way from A to Z.