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Optics Magic at Home with Judy & Nancy: Light & Shadows

15 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 light and shadows 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. In celebration of the International Day of Light, 16 May 2020, OSA is pleased to offer this webinar, and other optical activities and experiments families can do at home together.


REGISTER NOW: Light & Shadows with Judy & Nancy

In this webinar you will find out how light travels and use what you have learned to make a pinhole viewer! This webinar will include two activities you can do at home with materials you can find around your home.

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


Activity 1: How Does Light Travel?

Activity 2: Make a picture with a pinhole!


Materials you will need to do these at home:

  1. A piece of cardboard or thick paper (about 15 cm square) with a 1 cm triangle cut in the center
  2. A small light like an LED keychain light or small flashlight (If you have two of these lights, even better!)
  3. A medium size box or carton, at least 15 cm on a side
  4. Scissors
  5. A piece of aluminum foil
  6. A sharp pencil
  7. Cellophane tape
  8. Wax paper (or tracing paper- it needs to be translucent)
  9. Electrical tape (or other opaque tape for covering holes in the box)


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