Family Activity: Design Your Own Spectroscope

Light is an amazing tool for learning and experimentation. Make your own spectroscope and experiment with light.

 

Light is an amazing tool for learning and experimentation. Make your own spectroscope and experiment with light.

Focus: Science

Spectroscope: A spectroscope is an instrument used to break up light, just like a prism does, showing the light spectrum. Make this scientific tool using recycled materials.

Materials

  • Paper tube
  • A blank CD
  • 2 index cards (at least 3×5 inches)
  • Pencil or pen
  • Hot glue or quick-drying glue
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Tape
  • Paint or makers (optional)

Directions

  1. On the reflective side of the CD, draw a circle off to the side, using the tube as a template.
  2. 1a1b

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  3. Use tape to remove the reflective layer from the CD. You may need to make a small scratch on the CD with a key or coin to get it started.
  4. 2a2c

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  5. Cut out the circle you drew on the CD.
  6. Tape the two index cards next to one another, leaving a small vertical slit between them.
  7. 3

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  8. Place the paper tube on top of the index cards, covering the slit. Adhere the paper tube to the cards with glue. Trim the index cards so they are flush with the paper tube.
  9. 4

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  10. Place the circle cut from the CD on the other side of the tube. Be sure the lines on the CD are parallel to the slit in the index cards on the opposite side. Glue the circle to the tube.
  11. 5

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  12. Optional: decorate the outside of the tube with construction paper, paint, or markers.
  13. 6

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  14. Note: Remind your child never to look directly at the sun. Look through the CD plastic toward a light source. The spectrum should appear on both sides (like the colors of the rainbow).
  15. Experiment with different light sources, which will produce different spectra.

 

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