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Interactive Tutorials

Science, Optics & You is a new interdisciplinary optics, light and microscopy curriculum resource package targeting elementary grade students. It is a collaborative project of the Center for Integrating Research and Learning at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and Molecular Expressions. The project combines scientific inquiry with hands-on instruction and state-of-the-art educational technology to equip students with skills for the twenty-first century. It provides an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates science, mathematics, language arts, social studies, and the arts.

The multimedia approach of Science, Optics & You is both educational and entertaining. It incorporates interactive computer based instruction, text, manipulatives and classroom and individualized activities for a variety of learning experiences.

Follow the links below to explore some of the interactive tutorials that we have constructed to support the program's activities and major concepts.

Newton's Prism Experiments - This tutorial replicates Isaac Newton's experiments with prisms through which he discovered that white light is made up of all the colors of the visible spectrum.

The Shadowbox Theatre - Have fun learning about shadows with our virtual shadowbox theatre.

Measuring With Shadows - Explore using shadows to measure relative heights by comparing the height of a Tyrannosaurus Rex shadow to that of a measuring stick.

Multiple Images - Mirrors can be used to produce multiple images. This tutorial explores how two mirrors can be used to produce up to 17 images of a single object.

Optical Light Bench - Examine how an optical light bench can be used to observe what happens to light passing through a lens.

Angles of Reflection - Explore how light is reflected from a smooth surface using this interactive tutorial to modulate the angle of incident and reflected light.

Refraction of Light - An interactive tutorial designed to demonstrate how a single wavelength of light is refracted by various media. The student can change the composition of the media, as well as the angle and wavelength of the incident light.

Simple Magnification - Explore how a simple magnifying glass works with this tutorial designed to explain the concept of magnification. The visitor can use the mouse cursor to move a magnifying glass to change the image enlargement of an object.

Eclipse of the Moon - Control the motion of the Moon as it moves into the shadow of the Earth.

Solar Eclipse - Control the motion of the Moon as it passes between the Sun and the Earth.

Double Refraction - This tutorial explores birefringence or double refraction of light when passed through a crystal of Iceland spar. Students can move the crystal over an image of a ball-point pen and some printed text to explore how birefringence affects the refraction of light.

Polarized Light Microscopy - Explore how various crystallized specimens appear when viewed through a polarized light microscope. Samples include a Moon rock, a dinosaur bone, spinach and many others.

Microscope Magnification - Explore what various things look like through a microscope at different magnifications. Samples include a computer chip, Moon rock, superconductors, the surface of a compact disc and several others.

Powers of Ten - Soar through space starting at 10 million light years away from the Milky Way down through to a single proton in Florida in decreasing powers of ten (orders of magnitude). Explore the use of exponential notation to understand and compare the size of things in our world and the universe.

Light and Color - Red, green, and blue are the primary colors. When mixed together in different proportions, you can make just about any color.

Moiré Images - Watch how images are made to change both shape and size as a grid moves over them.

Optical Illusions - Optical illusions can change the way you perceive how events occur. Explore several different types of illusions using spinning disks, color wheels, and a Moiré Pattern Generator.

Thaumatropes - Originally engineered as a spinning disk, we have applied Java to these optical illusions that allow the eye to merge two images so they appear as one.

Intel Play QX3 Computer Microscope Simulator - Explore how the new Intel QX3 Computer Microscope works to produce digital microscopic images.

Color Separation - The printing industry relies on a four-color separation process using cyan, magenta, yellow, and black dyes to faithfully reproduce artwork and photographs. This tutorial explores how these separations can be used to reconstitute a photograph.

Polarization of Light - This tutorial allows visitors to interactively block or pass light waves by controlling the alignment of polarizers with an incident light beam.

Magnifying with a Bi-Convex Lens - Explore how a simple thin bi-convex lens operates to magnify a real image. This tutorial allows the student to move the lens with respect to the object being imaged and to discover how the proximity of the lens and object affect the real image.

Translational Microscopy - This interactive tutorial simulates the scanning of a sample under the microscope at a fixed magnification. Students must first focus the sample (as is the case with a real microscope), then they are able move the sample in all directions to thoroughly explore the various features exhibited by the sample. Brightness (Intensity) and Zoom controls allow fine-tuning of the microscopic images.

Birefringent Crystals in Polarized Light - Examine a single crystal on a rotating stage with a virtual polarizing microscope. As the image is rotated through 360 degrees, it alternately becomes light and dark (twinkling) as its position with respect to the polarizer and analyzer changes. Visitors can also insert a virtual full-wave retardation plate into the light path to determine the sign of birefringence for the crystal.

Human Vision - Exploring how images are created on the retina of a human eye, this tutorial allows the student to adjust the distance of an object from the eye to vary the size of the image.

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