Monday, February 14, 2022

Homeschool Astronomy: How Does A Color Filter Affect the Temperature of Light Refracted through a Prism?

 Here's my biggest homeschool tip: never get rid of your homeschool stuff!

Big kids may not use those sweet sensory materials and basic manipulatives the way that they did when they were little, sure, and all that stuff from the early years may sit in your closet for a distressingly long time, but every now and then these big kids DO need that stuff, and it's awfully nice to have it. We've repurposed all kinds of the kids' early learning stuff into our homeschool high school, from the map puzzles that I dragged back out when Will was studying AP Human Geography, to the Base 10 blocks that helped the kids wrap their heads around binary during our Robotics and Programming study, to the beakers and balance scale that helped the kids understand mass and volume that we now use in science labs.

For this Honors Astronomy lab, Will repurposed the colored cellophane that I bought back in 2015 when the kids were going through a phase of having big interests in color theory (we did ALL the color wheels and color mixing and color filter stuff! It was so fun!). She also used a set of glass prisms that I WISH I'd bought back when my little learners were super interested in rainbows, dang it, and an infrared thermometer that I bought in 2014, after seeing the one that Will used to earn her Junior Scientist badge at Yellowstone

By this time, we'd played around quite a lot with prisms and their angles of refraction, and how a color filter might affect the dispersal of light, etc. So when I challenged Will to create her own experiment involving prisms, she thought it would be interesting to investigate how a color filter might affect the temperature of each color of refracted light from a prism.

I love the way that this experiment flows so naturally from her prior explorations. To make this lab work, she needed to know the prism shape that would give her the widest spread of individual colors, and have that experience of measuring the temperatures of each color, and noticing how a color filter affects the refracted rainbow.

If we'd owned these prisms throughout her childhood, that's probably information that she would have already picked up through sensory play and simpler experiments, and who knows how sophisticated her lab ideas would be now?

It's surprising how many astronomy labs a kid can complete right on her own back deck!

Will's got a few more labs that she ought to do to finish up her lab notebooks for a couple of her science studies (the goal for a high school lab science course is at least ten labs), and now I'm trying to think of more ways to use this awesome colored cellophane in experiments. 

Maybe she can grow bean sprouts under colored light for AP Environmental Science? 

P.S. Interested in more of the hijinks involved in homeschooling two high schoolers? Follow along in my Craft Knife Facebook page!

No comments: