User login

How Thick is Your Hair?

Source Institutions

    American Physical Society

Add to listGo to activity
How Thick is Your Hair?

In this activity on page 13 of the PDF, learners use a laser pointer (with known wavelength of light) to measure the thickness of a human hair. By shining the laser on a hair, analyzing the patterns created, and completing some calculations, learners the thickness of a hair in nanometers. Learners can calibrate the laser to find its wavelength by completing the first activity in the manual entitled, "Spots, Lines and Lasers." This manual contains 4 activities related to the Spectra: The Original Laser Superhero Force comic book published by the American Physical Society.

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 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
      • Lasers
      • Vibration and Waves
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
      • Diffraction and Interference

Informal Categories

  • Literature


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Thompson-Flagg, Rebecca; Johnson, Kerry G.


  • All Rights Reserved, American Physical Society, ©2010


User Lists

This resource is part of these lists: