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In this activity (posted on March 12, 2011), learners follow the steps to construct a spectroscope, a tool used to analyze light and color. First, learners use relatively simple materials to construct the device. Then, learners look through their spectroscopes at a variety of different light sources including incandescents, LEDs, compact fluorescents, sun light, etc. and compare what they observe. This resource includes a few examples of how certain chemicals form different colors of light.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Light and Optics
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
    • Technology
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Light and Optics
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elements and Periodic Table
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
      • Diffraction and Interference
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Oakland Discovery Center, ©2011


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