It is supremely amazing how children are born to be natural scientists. Ever curious about the world around them, they pick up bugs and sticks and ask endless questions about what they find. Today’s modern parent ought to be armed with answers, or an approximation of the actual ones if their child’s interest in science and optics is to be sustained.
There are a variety of experiments on optics that can be performed to explain the many scientific concepts of the field. It is not simply teaching your child the scientific statements such as how light bends when traveling through different substances or how it scatters when it hits something in its path.
In fact, black and white are not just the presence and absence of all colors, respectively.
For scientists 10 years and older, you could try the following adult-supervised activities.
For an experiment on bending light, you will need a utility knife; a clear, cylindrical drinking glass; scotch tape; water; a flashlight; a piece of colored plastic; a shoebox or other similar container without a top.
Two vertical slits have to be carefully cut in one end of the box, with the space between the slits smaller than the width of the drinking glass. The colored plastic has to be taped in place over one of the slits.
Then, the room has to be put in darkness and the flashlight turned on. The torch will be shined into the box through the slits. Ask the young scientist to look inside the box and find out what the light is doing. Let the child see where the light rays appear on the side of the box.
Water is then poured into the glass and then placed in the center of the box. Then, with the room in darkness once again, the flashlight is shined through the slits into the box. Let the child observe the action of the light this time and where the light rays now appear on the side of the box. Ask what happens to the light beams after they hit the glass of water.
This experiment shows how optical lenses bend light and how the eye manipulates the light that enters it.
Another lens activity
For this experiment, you will need a Science Notebook, two convex lenses, two concave lenses, a flashlight, and a piece of white paper.
Let the child write down in the notebook the shape of the lenses, how they are alike, and how they are different. Then, have the young scientist look at the pages of the book, a strand of hair, your hands, and other things through the lenses. Let them draw what they see in the notebook and to label each image with the lens type used to view it.
This time, ask the child how the concave and the convex lenses made things look.
To show how lenses bend light in different directions, shine the flashlight through each lens into the piece of white paper and have the child observe and note the direction the convex and the concave lenses bend light. Have the scientist draw what they see in the science notebook.
Then, use a combination of lenses to show what happens when multiple optics are used simultaneously. Can two different lenses be used to get up-close images of faraway objects?
Your budding scientist should have a pretty good idea of how lenses in optical devices work through the above experiments.