• Field Trip

    More than 250 interactive science, technology, energy and health exhibits await students of all ages.  We’re experts at making sure that bringing your group to the Museum is smooth sailing all the way. Discounted admission for groups of 20 or more!

  • ScienceWorks

    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.

  • Outreach

    It's Science on Wheels: We bring the Museum to you!  We offer fun, inquiry-based programs for the students in your classroom, library, festival or youth center! All programs address objectives outlined in the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations and include pre- and post-visit activities.

  • Distance Learning

    Our educators use videoconferencing to engage your students in a dynamic, hands-on learning experience. Program kits sent to classroom teachers include nearly everything you need for experiments. Kits are yours to keep! All programs address National Science Education Standards and align with Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations.

  • Teacher Workshops

    Join us for fast-paced, hands-on teacher workshops that provide elementary and middle school educators with new hands-on tools for incorporating interactive science and math activities into your classroom.  Join us for professional development opportunities both at the museum and at your school.

  • Scouts

    The best place for Scouts to explore STEAM! We offer unique, fun-filled workshops, designed specifically for Scouts. Come to the Museum for your workshop and get hands-on as you explore math, science, technology, and more.

  • Summer Camp

    Explore week-long science and math activities in conjuntion with Ann Arbor Rec&Ed and other local organizations.  Elementary and middle school children can investigate a different theme each week through hands-on and engaging fun.

  • Birthday Parties

    What do you get when you mix one part science, one part fun, and one part celebration? A birthday party at the Museum! Experience a birthday full of discovery by exploring more than 250 exhibits and experimenting with a hands-on activity. Celebrate in a unique and interactive environment to make your special day really special!

  • Evening Workshops

    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!

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WORKSHOP Lights and Optics

Outreach Workshop: Light and Optics

Shed a new light on science in this interactive workshop. Learn how to use the scientific method to explore what we know about the nature of light.


$310 - Includes two 50-minute workshops.  Additional workshops $125 each.

Register for an Outreach Workshop today!

Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations, Science v.1.09

  • Identify light and sound as forms of energy. (P.EN.03.11)
  • Demonstrate that light travels in a straight path and that shadows are made by placing an object in a path of light. (P.EN.03.21)
  • Observe what happens to light when it travels from air to water (a straw half in water and half in the air looks bent). (P.EN.03.22)
  • Explain how we need light to see objects: lights from a source reflects off objects and enters our eyes. (P.PM.03.52)

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 Lights and Optics


Library, School

50 minutes



Physical Sciences