CD Spectroscope

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In this activity, learners use an old CD to construct a spectroscope, a device that separates light into its component colors. Learners will hold it up to various light sources to examine how different light has different color strengths. Use this activity to introduce learners to the color spectrum and the tools scientists use to study it. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Two 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheets of card stock. This should be light weight cardboard (like the kind used in index cards). Heavy construction paper will also work. If you have a choice of colors for the card stock, darker ones are better.
  • 1 compact disk
  • Scotch tape
  • Several light sources. During construction, a normal flashlight is recommended.


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Diffraction and Interference
    • Light and Optics
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Little Shop of Physics, 2009