Optics For Kids - Resources for Teachers and Parents

Resources for Teachers and Parents

Here are some great web links and other resources on optics. Your library or bookstore should have some of the books, as well as others on various aspects of optics. If you know about other web sites or programs with good educational content on optics, please let us know!

Also ask your friendly librarian or science teacher to help you find other books on optics or other areas of science! Links open in another window.


Optical Solutions Group Pinterest Boards 

Visit our Pinterest boards to find ideas on science and optics-related projects. Also features other interesting links, places to visit, and science topics. Updated regularly.

OSA's "Optics for Kids" Web Site

OSA (Optical Society of America) has a great educational web site that is also called "Optics for Kids." This site has a colorful, graphics-rich interface and provides many fun and educational features including articles, experiments, and a parents and teachers corner. Must have the Flash Player installed.

OSA Partnership with Girl Scouts
The OSA Foundation has developed a resource guide for girls, ages 11 – 15, called Lighten Up! Discovering the Science of Light.  Must have Adobe Reader or Acrobat installed to read the PDF.

A History of Light and Lighting by Bill Williams

This site by Bill Williams is a very broad view of the history of light and lighting, starting with the birth of the sun over 4 billion years ago and including references to optics, stage lighting, various types of lamps, and key people in the history of light and lighting.

Molecular Expressions: Light and Color

This site is part of "Molecular Expressions Microscopy Primer" and is at a substantially higher grade level than this site. But it's worth a look for the excellent explanations, graphics, and some interactive Java tutorials on refraction and reflection. It includes details on many subjects only briefly mentioned here, including diffraction, polarization, and interference. A fantastic Web site! There is also a fantastic activity guide on optics for teachers.

The Official Optics Discovery Kit (OSA)

Materials (lenses, filters, a hologram, optical fiber, diffraction grating, etc.) for various simple experiments with optics. Includes instruction booklet. Multi-kit classroom packages are also available.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. is a leading provider of learning and knowledge products. They are one of the world's most trusted sources of information on every topic imaginable - from the origins of the universe to current events and everything in between.

Laser Tech Online

Laser Tech Online contains a directory of links to general optics tutorials, classroom demonstrations, and many more helpful optics links.



LIGHT ACTION! by Vicki Cobb and Josh Cobb 
(Illustrated by Theo Cobb, SPIE, April 2005)
Subtitled "Amazing Experiments with Optics," this is a terrific book for continuing your exploration of optics. The experiments cover many of the points discussed here, but they go on to include more advanced topics such as polarization and diffraction. Experiments require only simple household materials and objects (suggested for grades 6 and up). Highly recommended! Go to Amazon.com

Eyewitness: LIGHT by David Burnie (Eyewitness Science Series, DK CHILDREN, October 4, 1999)
Great photos and explanations! See this book on Amazon.com

Explorabook: A Kids' Science Museum in a Book by John Cassidy (Klutz Press, January 1992)
Lens, mirror, diffraction grating and more for optics experiments, plus others on magnetism, bacteria, etc. -- a really cool book. This comes from the Exploratorium in San Francisco, a really great science museum.   See this book on Amazon.com

How Science Works by Judith Hahn (Revised edition, Reader's Digest, November 26, 1996)
Very good optics (and other) experiments with simple home-built parts.  See this book on Amazon.com


Newton's Apple

Public TV's Family Science Show. Website has activity guides and experiments for school and home on wide variety of scientific topics. Check for TV listings and for many media resources.

Curriculum For Teachers

Smithsonian Science Education Center
Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC), the only unit at the Smithsonian Institution that is solely dedicated to formal K-12 science education reform. Students explore light, how it travels, its colors and wavelengths, reflection, refraction, optics, and more in this Science and Technology Concepts for Middle Schools™ inquiry-based physical sciences module. It includes a module-long research project. All materials developed by the National Science Resources Center.

Molecular Expressions: Activity Guide for Teachers

NASA - Educational Materials
NASA has an abundance of materials for teachers on many science-related subjects. For educators K-12. They have an excellent teacher's guide called, "Optics: Light, Color and Their Uses." This guide contains activities for grades K-12 in science and math. It has color and light activities using lenses, prisms, hidden messages, periscopes and kaleidoscopes. You need Adobe Acrobat reader to open this guide.

Buying Supplies Online

A local science or children's museum may sell simple lenses, prisms, mirrors, etc. Laser pointers are now quite inexpensive and can be used for optical experiments with colored filters, lenses, and optical fibers. You can buy laser pointers at office supply and electronics stores.

Scientifics Online

Find optic component and laser kits for all ages. Features laser pointers, magnifiers, prisms, unique lighting kits, and numerous other optics-related projects.

Science Kit & Boreal Laboratories

Science Kit & Boreal Laboratories is a leading provider of science education products to K-12 teachers, home-schoolers and science hobbyists throughout the United States. Sells prisms, mirrors, and lenses.

Edmund Optics

View their online catalog for their extensive selection of optics and optical components. They offer experimental and commercial grade optics such as lenses, mirrors, prisms, magnifiers, lasers, and much more. Also see their digital catalogs on optical topics.