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    Discover science and connect to the natural world while staying safe and healthy at home!

    Check out our virtual programming schedule and browse through our list of resources, activities, crafts, videos, and more to help continue to bring science into your world.

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    Your students become scientists during our ScienceWorks Labs. All programs align with National Science Education Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations and Common Core State Standards. Labs are available year-round for preschool to middle school students and are led by an instructor.

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    Our Outreach staff brings the Museum to you—at schools, libraries, community centers, and festivals—by delivering hands-on programming customized to your schedule and curriculum interests.

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    Experience live, interactive Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum programs right in your classroom! Our educators use videoconferencing technology to share science and math activities with your students, engaging them in a dynamic, hands-on learning experience.

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  • Summer Camp

    Through the Unity in Learning partnership, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Leslie Science & Nature Center, and Yankee Air Museum now offer families incredible day camps at two fantastic locations in Ann Arbor and Belleville.

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    Want to dive deeply into specific topics? Join us for an Evening Workshop! Explore a variety of science concepts through hands-on activities, interactive demos, and experiments in a small group setting. Topics vary from stop-motion animation to computer programming to engineering – there’s sure to be something that piques your interest!

Back to Programs

WORKSHOP Light and Optics

Outreach Workshop: Light and Optics

Shed new light on science as we discover how light travels, reflects, and refracts through the world.

Fees are determined by distance from the Museum:

  • Within 25 miles: $340
  • 26-50 miles: $370
  • 51+ miles: $370 + $.58 per mile
  • Each additional hour: $125

Register today!

Michigan K-12 Science Standards


Plan and conduct investigations to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.


Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.


Develop a model to describe that light reflecting from objects and entering the eye allows objects to be seen.

Light and Optics Pre-visit Vocabulary

Absorb: To take in or become part of.

Concave: Rounded inward like the inside of a bowl.

Convex: Rounded outward like a circle.

Diffraction Grating: Parallel lines closely spaced that separated white light.

Energy: Ability to change the temperature, motion, or makeup of an object.

Lens: Curved glass used to bend light.

Opaque: Substance that allows no light to pass through.

Prism: Triangular solid used to refract or bend white light into the colors of the rainbow.

Radiometer: Instrument used to detect energy.

Reflect: Bounce off.

Refract: Bending of light rays.

Translucent: Substance that allows some light to pass through.

Transparent: Substance that allows all light to pass through. You can see clearly through transparent materials.

Light and Optics Post-visit Activity

Post-visit activities provide your students with an opportunity to review workshop-presented concepts and introduce related subjects. Below you will find a classroom extension activity and a list of suggested resources for further exploration. We hope that you enjoyed our Outreach Hands-On Workshop and we look forward to visiting your students again!

Hands-on Activity: Path of Light

Materials (per group of 2)

  • Four 3"x5" or 5"x8" index cards
  • Flashlight
  • Paper punch


  1. Use the paper punch to punch a hole in the center of each card.
  2. Fold the short sides of the card back so it can stand up on the long side.
  3. Place cards about 6 inches apart, with the holes lined up.
  4. Have one student shine the flashlight into the hole in the first card. Have the other student hold their hand behind the 4th card.
  5. Does the light shine on their hand? How did it get there?
  6. Now move one of the cards a little bit to the side. Repeat step 4.
  7. What do you see now? What does this tell you about the path light travels?


Light always travels in a straight line. When the holes in the cards are lined up, the straight line of light can go through them. When you move one card to the side, the light can not pass through the hole.

Suggested Resources


Burnie, David. Eyewitness Books: Light. DK Publishing. 1992.
Doherty, Paul. The Magic Wand and Other Bright Experiments on Light and Color. The Exploratorium Science Snack Book Series. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 1995.
Primarily Physics: Investigations in Sound, Light and Heat Energy Grades K–3. AIMS Education Foundation. 1994.
Science Made Simple Grades 1–6. Frank Schaffer Productions, CA. 1997.
Tolman, Marvin N. Hands-On Physical Science Activities for Grades 2–8. Parker Publishing Company, Inc., NY. 1995.
Zubrowski, Bernie. Mirrors: Finding Out About the Properties of Light. William Morrow and Company. 1992.


The Exploratorium Teacher Institute
Science, Optics and You
Utah State of Education

WORKSHOP Light and Optics


Library, School

50 minutes

K-2nd, 3-5th


Physical Sciences

Still not sure we have the experience you want?

Visit unityinlearning.org to open a gateway to hands-on discovery, exploration of the natural world, and experiences that take flight.

Through the Unity in Learning partnership with the Ann Arbor Hands-On MuseumLeslie Science and Nature Center, and Yankee Air Museum we provide over 100 different  programs at our facilities, on site at your location, or through interactive video conferencing.