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Bringing STEM to Light: Teaching about Light and Optics is a Course

Bringing STEM to Light: Teaching about Light and Optics

Ended Aug 10, 2015

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Full course description

Starts June 22, 2015

Light is a fascinating and familiar topic for children and adults. It’s also rich and complex, which is great if you are teaching a graduate level course in Quantum Mechanics. But how do you lay the foundation for this exciting topic? What do you teach to the youngest would-be scientists?

This self-paced, 5 week course is designed for both formal and informal educators who want to teach children ages 6-14 about the science of light and optics.

Starting with a simple kit and some basic activities, we’ll work through understanding the basics of light, color, shadows, reflection and refraction. Each module offers easy to digest science content, application of science process skills, connections to real world technologies and engaging activities designed to build your comfort and confidence with light and optics. Throughout each module, guidance (suggestions) on how to use and create learning experiences for children will be provided through online discussions and other opportunities for self-reflection and sharing. This process will support the completion of a final project.

Final Project:

Each participant will develop either an action plan or a student centered learning activity that integrates understandings and experiences from the modules and supports the teaching of light and optics in your setting.

Action Plan: a planning guide in which you identify goals, strategies for accomplishing the goals, resources needed, end product to be developed and timeline for completion.


Student-Centered Learning Activity: an actual activity or set of activities you will design with the intent of implementing with an identified group of children.

Course Topics

Module 1: Introduction – Light and the Electromagnetic Spectrum
Module 2: Light and Color
Module 3: Light, Materials and Reflection
Module 4: Refraction and Lenses
Module 5: Completing your Project or Action Plan

Intended Audience: Formal and informal science educators who teach ages 6-14
Time to complete the course: 6-8 hours
Digital badge for completing the course: YES
Format: Self-paced
Peer feedback: Discussion forums

Recommended Materials

International Year of Light: Light Blox Kit - This kit can be purchased from Laser Classroom for $39.00 using coupon code MOOC2015 to receive $10 off.

The kit contains:
  • A set of three Light Blox (red, blue, and green LEDs)
  • A set of three lenses (acrylic: double convex, double concave, and trapezoid)
  • Two mirrors with stands
  • A diffraction grating
  • A protractor
  • A hard copy of the Activity Guide
Other Materials
  • Aluminum foil
  • White and black construction paper
  • Crayons or colored pencils
  • A flat, light colored surface
  • Plastic bag or transparency
  • Waxed paper

Colette DeHarpporte, MA

Founder of LASER Classroom

Colette DeHarpporte is the developer of the International Year of Light, Light Blox Kit and many other kits for teaching and learning about light, lasers and optics. She is the founder of Laser Classroom, whose mission is to create resources and partnerships that make photonics accessible, engaging and fun for students and teachers so that youth are empowered and prepared to enter the 21st century workforce. Prior to founding Laser Classroom, she worked on interdisciplinary education projects at St. Catherine University and the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center.