Tricks of Light: 5 Light Lesson Plans to engage your students

The subjects of light and optics are full of visually stunning phenomenon. Here are our five favorite activities/demonstrations for you to download for FREE!  They are great, not only for getting students excited, but also for getting them to ask questions and challenge their thinking.

Light Lesson Plan 1: How your computer screen displays color

Additive Color mixing

How does your computer use just red, green and blue light to create all the colors you can imagine? With a smart phone and a tiny stick on micro-phone lens (microscope) students uncover the colorful world lurking beyond a white computer screen.

A flat screen generates colors via pixels – tiny “dots’ of light – each of which are either red, blue or green. All of the other colors we see on the screen are actually tricks of light and perception.

Use this light lesson plan to introduce a unit on color or to connect a lesson on additive color to the real world!

Color and Computers




Light Lesson Plans 2 &3: Pepper’s Ghost Illusion

Reflection and image formation are standard in any unit on light and optics. You can introduce virtual images with a visually stunning illusion called Pepper’s Ghost. Originally, the Pepper’s Ghost illusion was made famous in the late 1800’s by a brilliant theater manager named John Pepper. He placed a huge sheet of glass on stage at a 45 degree angle to the audience.  He then brightly lit actors in the orchestra pit below. The reflection of the actors in the orchestra pit appeared to be at the same distance from the glass on stage as they “really” were from the glass while down below. The result was a stunningly realistic image of ghostly, semi transparent figures whirling around on stage. Very dramatic, indeed.

PepperGram Projector

Reflect View Activity

Now you can easily recreate the illusion in your classroom at the beginning of a unit on light and optics two simple and easy to implement Lesson Plan for students grades 3-12. One uses Reflect Views to recreate the original illusion and the other employs a modernized version of the illusion using a PepperGram Projector and a tablet screen.

PepperGram Projector Activity

Light Lesson Plan 4: Muggles Explore Invisibility (for real)

Invisibility in action

Nothing is quite an enticing as demonstrating that what students are learning has a real world application that they find fascinating. The next time you start a light lesson plan on refraction, consider introducing it with a crazy simple way to demonstrate a recently developed and very promising invisibility technology that involves nothing more than 4 ordinary lenses and some math. You can get your very own Invisibility Kit for Muggles right here at Laser Classroom! Get some background information on this technology HERE! 

Invisibility Demo

Light Lesson Plan 5: What is color… really?

Color is one of the most approachable topics in any unit on light. But it’s quite not as simple or straight forward as one might think. This hands-on activity starts with students sorting m&m’s under a single color of light (red, green or blue), and ends with a lot of questions about what it really means for something to be orange, or purple or brown. It’s one thing to say the words – the m&m is red because it reflects green light and absorbs every other color (wavelength); but its quite another to have to explain what’s going on when you cant sort your m&m’s! All you need are a set of Light Blox, some m&m’s and a white sheet of paper and you’re off!

Color  with m&m’s