Articles

Looking for more?! Continue with online optics education for kids here. Find a wide range of great resources and ideas organized by topic.
Color and Light Here we ask how color is sensed by the viewer. To answer the question we need to specify how color is described and how color information is received by the eye. The starting point of an understanding of color is a description of light.
Color Me Human An article discussing the ways human beings see color.
Color, Thin Films, and Interference The colors of nature are all around us and are produced by different aspects of the interaction of light with matter. The most common is light interacting with colored pigments.
Colors from the Black and White A short description of Fechner colors.

Fluorescence and the Color of Day Glo Paints To the casual observer, a white piece of paper seems white whether viewed at dawn, noon, or dusk. In contrast, fine arts painters must compare the colors of their paint mixtures to the scene they are viewing. They recognize that the actual color of an object depends as much on the color of the light used for illumination as it does on the nature of the object. The effect is most obvious with object and some. of the new “Day Glo” colors (especially the “Saturn” and “Arc” yellows’).
It's a Colorful Life Unique materials for presenting color concepts.
Rainbows White light is composed of all wavelengths of visible light. This means that the waves that make up sunlight and incandescent light are a mixture of all the colors of the spectrum.

Some Reflections on Color A short article on perceived colors.
Books for Optics Experiments A short recommendation and review of five useful books of experiments demonstrating optics.
Edible Holograms There is a popular misconception that the mass produced holograms affixed to credit cards and Fruit Loops cereal boxes are reflection holograms.
Encouraging Kids in Science Getting young people, in general, and girls, in particular, interested in science is a subject of national debate and intense interest. This article provides comments on encouraging children in science.

Heads up Displays A heads-up display is one example of an optical device that does pretty interesting things in rather clever ways, yet is based on principles a kid can understand.

Math Isn't Just Numbers Anymore Today is a glorious time to be a mathematics teacher. The new national standards demand connections, not only between topics in mathematics but between mathematics and the real wor1d.
Olympic Optics The Olympics are a big deal this summer and many Olympic events involve water: Swimming obviously, but also diving, rowing, synchronized swimming, canoeing, and kayaking, sailing, and, yes, water polo.
Power of Ten People find it cumbersome to speak of units of measurement like "one ten thousandth of a billionth" of an inch, or even "ten to the minus thirteenth" (10-13) inches; so they devise different names.
Revisiting Columbus Article on how simple optical observations, or the lack thereof, may have had a major impact on the course of world history.
Holograms You've probably got a hologram in your pocket or purse right now. Just look at a credit card.
Lasers DVD players. Eye surgery. Science fiction movies. These are some of the ways in which lasers are used but there are many others, as well.
Lenses and Geometrical Optics We use lenses and mirrors everyday but sometimes don't really understand how and why they do what they do.

Modulating Light Light intensity modulation is one of the oldest means of cornmunication the semaphore contains may of the same basic elements as a modern optical communications system: a light source (the sun), a modulator (the flags) and a detector and demodulator (the observer).
Only the Shadow Knows This article looks at some very simple experiments to help youngsters understand the propagation of light.
Scintillate, Scintillate Little Star... If you have a chance to get out with a youngster on a night when the stars are twinkling, it might be interesting to point out the phenomenon and ask why the stars twinkle. Is it a characteristic of the stars themselves?
Optical Illusions The eye and the brain together give us an extremely detailed picture of the world, compensating smoothly for some of their own limitations. However, a few simple experiments can reveal some of the eye's limits.
Haidinger's Brush

It is commonly appreciated that light in the sky is partially polarized and that some insects (e.g., honey bees) use the polarization for cues in navigation.

Polarized Light Light of a single color can be described as a wave with a specified wavelength or as a photon with a specified energy.