STEAM Saturday – Homemade Spectroscope! (3/4/2023)

Spring and sunshine are on the way! In the meantime, you and your favorite kiddo can bring rainbows inside when you make a Homemade Spectroscope! This simple and fun project can be made with a few materials most of which can be found around the house. 

 Here’s what you’ll need for this simple and fun experiment: 

  • Cardboard tube (think paper towel roll or wrapping paper tube) 
  • Cardstock or cardboard 
  • An old CD (if you don’t have any at home you may be able to find one at a dollar store or thrift store) 
  • Decorating supplies 
  • Pen or pencil 
  • Something to cut with (remember, safety first!) 

 Now let’s make a spectroscope! If you are using a long tube (like one from a roll of wrapping paper), you can cut down to a more reasonable length if desired. Now let’s give our tube some color! Have your child color or paint the outside of the tube or they can glue some colored paper around it.  

 This next part is where safety first comes in! Either you can do these next steps or make sure to supervise your little one as they perform the tasks. First, cut a slit at a 45 degree angle near the bottom of the tube. This slit should only go through one side of the tube- it’s where your CD will sit. On the opposite side of the tube from the slit you just made, cut a square peephole. 

 Next, break out your cardstock or cardboard, trace around the end of the tube to create a template. Then cut out your circle leaving about half an inch of space around it. Cut slits or small triangles around the outside of your circle to help it wrap around the end of your tube. Cut a slit of about a quarter-inch wide in the middle of the circle and then use glue, tape, etc. to attach it to the opposite end of the roll from your slit and peephole. 

 Now have your child decorate the tube however they’d like: with stickers, glitter, washy tape, the sky is the limit!  

 Here’s where the science comes in. Put the CD in the slit with the 45 degree angle (make sure the shiny side is face up). Make sure the top slit is facing towards the sky and then have your child look through the peephole. What colors do they see? Do the colors change if the light source changes? For instance, what happens when you look through the peephole outside in natural light versus looking inside with an incandescent light bulb or candle light. 

 See the full experiment and the science behind it from Hess UnAcademy HERE. 

As always, get as creative as you want, and above all, have lots of fun learning together! 

We’ll see you right back here next Saturday for another STEAM Saturday activity!  Scroll through the rest of our website to learn how Critchlow Adkins is Building Brighter Futures for the children and families we serve! 

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