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Optics Magic at Home with Judy & Nancy: COLORS OF LIGHT

08 May 2020 13:00 - 14:00

Eastern Time (US & Canada) (UTC - 05:00)

COVID-19 has created a new normal, combining our work and home lives like never before. School closures mean many of us are also entertaining and educating our kids in addition to managing our other obligations. Why not add some optical experiments to your routine? This webinar will explore the colors of light around you with activities that can be done with materials you can find in your home.

What is Optics?

Optics – or the science of light – is the study of how light behaves and interacts with the world. In these days of COVID-19, optical technologies, from cameras and computers to fiber optic cables, are helping to keep us all connected. We know this also means many families are now working and learning at home. As we approach the International Day of Light on May 16, OSA is pleased to offer this webinar and other optical activities and experiments families can do at home together.


REGISTER NOW: Optics Magic with Judy & Nancy: COLORS OF LIGHT

What are the colors that make up white light? Are they always a rainbow?  In this webinar you will make a rainbow and an instrument to study the colors of light around you. This webinar will include activities you can do at home with materials you can find around your home. These activities are geared towards elementary and middle school students but are fun for kids of all ages. 

Check out this parent and teachers guide to learn more about the activities Judy and Nancy will be demonstrating during the webinar.


Activity 1: Make a Rainbow

Activity 2: Make a spectroscope

Activity 3: Look at the colors of lights!


Materials: To fully participate, you’ll want to gather these materials before we begin.

  1. An old recordable CD (CD-R) that you don’t need any more. (Save the case for an upcoming webinar.)
  2. A flashlight with a single bulb or an LED keychain with a single bulb
  3. An index card or similar size piece of thin cardboard or dark construction paper
  4. Tape 
  5. Scissors
  6. A cardboard tube like a toilet paper tube or a paper towel tube cut in half
  7. A square of aluminum foil to go over one end of the tube and a craft or other thin knife (with adult supervision) OR a piece of thin cardboard or dark construction paper and a ballpoint pen or thick needle (like a tapestry needle)
  8. Different kinds of lights like incandescent, fluorescent, a laptop screen, etc
  9. Glue (optional)


Other Resources

  1. Learn more about the International Day of Light
  2. Visit for more activities, experiments and videos.
  3. Follow our social media channels  to learn more about activities you and your kids can do at home. 
  4. Please visit our COVID-19 Message Center to learn more about our efforts and impacted programs.
  5. Visit PBL Projects for more activities for teachers and families. 


Judy Donnelly

Judy is retired from Three Rivers Community College where she was professor of physics and technology for 36 years and Program Coordinator for the Laser and Fiber Optic Technology associate degree program. She is a senior member and fellow of OSA and SPIE and has served on outreach and education committees of both societies as well as other national and international STEM education initiatives. Judy was awarded the Educator Award by SPIE (2003) and the OSA Esther Hoffman Beller Medal (2012) for outstanding contributions to education in optical science and engineering. Judy enjoys gardening, knitting, baking bread and answering the very difficult science questions asked by her three grandchildren. 




Nancy Magnani

Nancy started her career in engineering as a senior engineer designing and testing high speed fiber optic systems for a telephone operating company.  After relocating to Connecticut, Nancy transitioned to a career in education.  As a Science Specialist/Grant Facilitator for a regional education service center, Nancy provided science professional development to teachers and wrote and facilitated STEM grants programs for 4th grade through high school students throughout eastern Connecticut.  Grant programs included energy, robotics and collaborating with Judy Donnelly on optics and photonics. Nancy currently is with the Sumner School district, Sumner, WA working with middle school science students, facilitates science club and judges STEM Fair projects at the school, district and state levels.  She is a member of National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) and a senior member of both OSA and SPIE.


Image for keeping the session alive