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Virtual Science Fair

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Light Tag—You’re It!

Have science fun as a family! Complete activities with parental supervision.

Materials:
  • A flashlight
  • Hand mirror
Procedure
  1. Make some space in a dimly lit room. If necessary, close blinds or curtains to darken the room.
  2. For the tag game, you need at least two players. But if you don’t have a second person to play with, pick some areas in the room to target (pictures on the wall, the arm of a chair, a stuffed animal, etc).
  3. Shine the flashlight at the mirror and watch how the light reflects. Adjust the angle of your mirror to move the light from side to side or up and down.
  4. Once you’re comfortable with how the light and mirror work, let’s play! Moving the reflected light, try to “tag” the other player with the beam of light.
  5. When you tag the other player, it’s their turn! Keep taking turns for as long as you want to play.
  6. Be sure to take a picture or video to share in the Facebook comments on the Buffalo Museum of Science or Tifft Nature Preserve pages!

What’s it all about?

Have you ever noticed a shiny piece of metal on the ground? Or seen a light that seems to appear and disappear? Those flashes of light are the result of changes in the direction of light waves. Light waves are all around us and are what make our vision possible. When light hits one surface and bounces off it’s called reflection.

We see reflection in mirrors, but you can see it on a variety of surfaces at home and in the world. The texture of the reflective surface changes what we see reflected back to us. How does a reflection on water look different when the wind is blowing versus when the water is still? The angle of the light hitting the surface is equal and opposite to the angle of the bounce of that light – this is called the law of reflection.

Try It!
  • What can you use other than a flashlight? Try this on a sunny day! Stand by a sunny window and point your reflective surface at the window to “catch” the sunlight.
  • Try other reflective surfaces! What other materials around the house reflect light like a mirror?
  • You can even try to make your own mirror. Take some aluminum foil or flatten a clean snack bag (the type with a shiny lining). Glue it to a piece of cardboard, shiny side out. The smoother you can get the shiny surface, the clearer the reflection will be.
  • Try it with two! Stand next to someone in front of the window. Pick a spot around the inside of the room and see who can move their spotlight there first. Are you both holding your mirrors at the same angle or are they different?
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