This box of light patterns is absolutely the coolest science activity for kids we’ve made yet! We explored how different colors of light are reflected in mirrors and observed the various patterns of light created. This is definitely a must try!
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Exploring mirrors and reflections is always fun for kids of all ages. When Lucy was a preschooler, I remember how intrigued she was when I gave her a couple mirrors to experiment with. She was noticing how letters looked reversed in the mirror and was determined to figure out why! Even little Theo as a toddler loved using a mirror during play.
As the kids have gotten older, their interest in the science of reflections has only increased. (Be sure to check out our collection of light science activities for kids!) When I came across this awesome light box pattern science activity, I knew we had to try it!
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Want to see it in action?
Exploring Reflections with Light Patterns in a Box
This science activity definitely is one of our favorites! Although it’s more appropriate for elementary-aged children to actually make, kids of all ages will enjoy using it for exploration.
Materials for Light Pattern Box Science
- Empty box
- Tracing paper
- Clear, transparent plastic wrap
- Mylar sheeting
- Optional: Paint or washi tape to decorate your light box
Directions for Making Your Light Pattern Box
1. Cut off the top flaps and bottom flaps of a small, cardboard box so you’re left with just a box frame. If your box frame is really tall, you can cut it down so it’s a bit shallower. (If you want to paint your box, now is a good time. Let it dry before going on to the next step.)
2. Tape tracing paper securely over one side of the box.
3. Flip the box over so it’s open at the top and the tracing paper side is face down.
4. Cut your mylar sheeting into strips. You want the strips to be as tall as the box. (The more accurate, the better.)
5. Fold each mylar segment into a tear drop share (or cylinder) and tape it to hold in place.
6. Make several of these in various sizes and place them inside the box. Make as many as will fit snuggly in your box.
7. Cover the top of the cardboard box with a sheet of plastic wrap. Tape it into place as taut and securely as possible.
8. Optional: Decorate the outside of your box with markers, washi tape, or other art materials.
How to Use Your Pattern Light Box
Reminder: Do not look directly at the sun. This can cause permanent damage to the eyes.
Explore various sources of light around your home or classroom with your light box. (We angled our light box toward our reading lamp light, our kitchen light, and at a window where sun was NOT directly shining in.) Hold the light box so the tracing paper side is facing you and the light source is on the other side. Experiment with holding your light box at different angles near the light and observe all the cool patterns it makes!
Try your light box with a colored light source. Our favorite was holding it in front of the television (especially colorful cartoons).
The colored light patterns moved and changed with the movement on TV.
What’s Going On?
The mylar tubes you created are reflecting light. As you change the angle of your light box, the angle of reflection changes, creating various patterns on your tracing paper.