Light & Heat Lessons

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Difficulty Level: This indicates how difficult it is for the teacher to present the lesson, not how hard it is for the student to do the experiment. Difficulty levels vary according to type of equipment needed, preparation time, and scarcity or expense of certain materials.

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 Light & Heat
Bending Light trailer
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Bending Light (Teen Class) -- Discover how to use a laser pen to magnify a butterfly's wing, insect legs, and a bug's abdomen one thousand times. This relates to light, coherence, diffraction, magnification, fiber optics, and microscopy. Difficulty: Medium. (Requires laser pens.)
Blowing Glass trailer
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Blowing Glass (Teen class) -- Students experiment with the properties of glass -- what it's made of, how it behaves when subjected to heat and cold, and how to manipulate it into different shapes. This relates to chemical compounds, heat, surface tension, states of matter, elasticity, and brittleness. Difficulty: High
Boil Water in a Cup trailer
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Boil Water in a Cup (Teen class) -- Students experiment with how water behaves when it gets hot. First they boil water in a metal cup, then in a paper cup, a plastic cup, a styrofoam cup, and even a leaf! This relates to static charge, evaporation, and cloud formation; the difference between how water turns into a vapor as clouds form, compared with how it behaves when you boil it; and the process of heat transfer in various materials. Difficulty: Medium
Burning Money trailer
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Burning Money (Teen class) -- Discover a way to light paper on fire with lots of flames, but come out completely unburned. This relates to combustion, temperature, chemistry, solutions, saturation, and evaporation. Difficulty: Easy
Burn with Electricity trailer
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Burning Things with Electricity and Oil Lamps -- Students discover how certain materials glow when electricity flows through them. They then try burning different kinds of oils to see which one makes the best oil lamp. This relates to electricity, voltage, amperage, resistance, heat, light, combustion, and materials. Difficulty: High
Candle in a Jar trailer
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Candle in a Jar -- Students use a jar to snuff out candles in a pan of water and see how high the water rises in the jar when the candles go out. This relates to liquids, gases, atmospheric pressure, temperature, and combustion. Difficulty: Easy
Liquid Nitrogen
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Liquid Nitrogen -- Students use liquid nitrogen to freeze things to 300 degrees below zero, and weird things happen! This relates to liquid nitrogen, liquids and gases, freezing, evaporation, cryogenic, absolute zero, fog, boiling, Leidenfrost effect, and lab safety. Difficulty: Medium
Lights and Paints trailer
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Lights & Paints -- Students discover the nature of additive and subtractive color through the use of filters and pigments. This only works in a darkened room. This relates to light frequency and wavelength.
Lights & Paints -- An alternate version for younger students, age 5-8. Difficulty: Easy
Flash Paper & Powder trailer"
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Flash Paper & Powders -- Students experiment with chemicals that can change the way paper burns. Then they find out which powders to NOT use to put out a kitchen fire! This relates to chemistry, solutions, saturation, evaporation, heat, light, combustion, and fire safety. Difficulty: Medium
Foosh and Boom Trailer
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Foosh and Boom! -- Make all kinds of explosions using caps, party poppers, and other chemicals. This relates to chemistry, light, heat, and combustion. Difficulty: Easy
Glow Sticks trailer
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Glow Sticks -- Students discover how chemicals combine to create flourescence, and how temperature affects the brightness of the chemical. This relates to mixtures, solutions, chemical reactions, light frequency, wavelength, and fluorescence. Difficulty: Easy
Heat Conduction Lliquid Crystals trailer
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Heat Conduction Liquid Crystals -- Students experiment with a material that changes colors when the temperature changes, trying different kinds of insulation to see which ones will block the heat source. This relates to heat conduction, specific heat, colors, interference of light waves, electricity, the chemistry of liquid crystals, and properties of insulators. Difficulty: High. (The liquid crystal film is hard to find.)
Lasers and Mirrors trailer
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Lasers & Mirrors -- Students use their reflections in plastic mirrors to discover how to make a million eyes, a "tunnel" through the desk, periscopes, kaleidoscopes, and how "fun house" mirrors work. A laser is used to show the light path. This lesson only works in rooms that can be darkened. This relates to reflection, refraction, interference, rainbows, lasers, light waves, and color. Difficulty: Medium
Laser Sound Waves trailer
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Laser Sound Waves -- Students use a laser beam to transform the sound of their own voice into crazy patterns. This relates to light waves, lasers, reflection, sound, vibration, and wavelengths. This lesson only works in rooms that can be darkened. Difficulty: Medium
Melting Plastics trailer
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Melting Plastics -- Cook all kinds of plastics with a hot air gun to see which ones melt, which ones bubble, which ones shrink, and which ones do nothing. This relates to melting point, temperature, freezing point, and convection. Difficulty: High
Mirror Mylar Masks trailer
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Mirror Mylar Masks -- Students experiment with the reflective properties of flexible mirrors and make a one-way mask that they can see through. This relates to light, reflection and transmission. Difficulty: Easy
Pinhole Masks trailer
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Pinhole Masks -- Students create masks that have no eye holes, only tiny pinholes to see through. Then they see how the number and position of pinholes changes their view. This relates to transmission of light, particles versus waves, and interference patterns. Difficulty: Easy
Polarized Light trailer
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Polarized Light -- Students experiment with polarizing filters, making images disappear and reappear again as if by magic. This relates to transmission of light, light waves, filters, polarization, and electromagnetic radiation. Difficulty: High
Shrinking Plastic trailer
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Shrinking Plastic -- Students discover how heat makes plastics return to their original shape. This relates to structure of molecules, heat, and states of matter. Difficulty: Easy
Solar Furnaces trailer
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Solar Furnaces -- Students discover how light travels through lenses and how lenses can be used to burn things with sunlight. This relates to heat, light, lenses, focal point, solar energy, and combustion. Difficulty: High
Thermal Conductivity trailer
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Thermal Conductivity -- Students test various materials by placing them on dry ice to see which is the best insulator. This relates to temperature, heat, cold, radiation, convection, conduction, insulators, and properties of matter. Difficulty: High
Wire With a Memory trailer
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Wire with a Memory -- Students experiment with weird wire that remembers its original shape. Even when you heat it, stretch it, cool it, and twist it, it goes right back to its original shape. This relates to atoms, crystals, density, alloys, heat, cold, expansion, contraction, and properties of metals. Difficulty: High

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