Beam Me Up!

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This is a quick activity (on page 2 of the PDF under Stained Glass Activity) about the "Tyndall effect," the scattering of visible light when it hits very small dispersed particles. Learners will shine a laser pointer through three relatively clear solutions after making predictions of how the light will behave. Like the colloidal solution of milk suspended in water, particles of nanogold and nanosilver scatter light in the same way, reflecting different colors depending on the size of the particle/wavelength of visible light. Also relates to linked video, DragonflyTV Nano: Stained Glass.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 3 clear cups
  • water
  • 1/8 teaspoon measuring spoon
  • flour
  • milk
  • spoon
  • laser pointer (e.g., cat toy)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Solutions
    • Vibration and Waves
    • Light and Optics
      • Lasers
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2008

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 741749