The University of Texas McDonald Observatory  
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Lights, Lasers, Action
Activities for Secondary Schools

Mirrors and Reflection
Learn about how flat mirrors work—pdf

Learn about refraction with a mini-laser and colored Jell-O—pdf

Delta, Delta, Delta (middle school version)
Can you bounce a laser beam around a triangle?—pdf

Delta, Delta, Delta (high school version)
Construct a triangle and bounce the beam—pdf

Squared (middle school version)
Bounce the beam around a square—pdf

Squared (high school version)
Construct the square, then bounce the beam—pdf

Construct a pentagon in this lab from Prince William Counties High School—pdf

Explore curved mirrors—pdf

Hot Air
Learn about the effects of the atmosphere on light—pdf

Movie Effects

from Phantom of the Opera
Learn how the phantom appears in the mirror on stage. WORD document

from Batman
Learn how to summon Batman when he is needed.WORD document

from Star Wars
Learn how a light saber works in different media. WORD document

Teacher Notes

This collection of optics activities was produced with Education/Public Outreach funding from the Technology Development for NASA Explorer Missions and SOFIA for the Project High Index Grisms for Mid-infrared Spectroscopy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under an Education and Public Outreach supplement to Grant/Contract/Agreement NNG06GC45G issued through the Office of Space Science by MaryJean Tykoski, Mary Kay Hemenway, and Daniel T. Jaffe (Principle Investigator)


24 February 2004
revised 11 November 2009
Astronomy Program · 1 University Station C1400 · The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas 78712-0259
prospective student inquiries:
site comments: marykay at