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Colors In White Light
Optics Suitcase

You are now ready to do some experiments with the class that illustrate some of what optical engineering is all about.

  • State that these experiments explore several ways to “see” the colors in white light. You are prepared to reveal certain “secrets” that might not be obvious to others when doing these experiments. [The “trick” aspect to these demos works well with 6th graders!]

  • Put up the overhead of your take-home flyer and walk the students through the salient features that describe “optics” and what it takes to be successful in this career. [The flyer should be handed out at the end of the class.]

  • On the other side of our flyer is a schematic of the OMEGA Laser at the University of Rochester. With your transparency, you might want to point out the size of this laser system (equal to the length of a football field).

  • Mention that 200 people with technical degrees in optical engineering, photonics, physics, electronics, computer engineering and mechanical engineering work on this giant experiment to generate energy from sea wate


    Note that you have three experiments: color by diffraction, color by polarization,
    and color by selective reflection (see Figure 2.)

Rainbow Peephole™

Magic Stripes

Magic Patch

diffraction polarization selective reflection


selective reflection

Figure 2. Three theme packets explore colors in white light and are given to students to take home.


Copyright by Stephen D. Jacobs, Rebecca L. Coppens and Christine Andrews-Angelo
December 24, 2001

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This site was last updated June 3, 2005.
URL: http://www.opticsexcellence.org
This site is maintained by the Center for Optics Manufacturing.