Welcome to the Optics Resource Center

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Fun Activities

Discover quick, casual learning resources geared toward the inner child in all of us. 

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Educational Tools

Explore curriculum, simulations, and classroom assignments designed for teachers.

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Fun Activities

What’s more fun than seeing the world in a brand-new way? Light is all around us – learning how it works and how we can harness its power unlocks a universe of curiosity. It’s science, but it feels like magic. Explore the links below for quick and exciting Optics activities that kids and young adults can do anywhere.

Optics Games

Grades: 3-5

Sun, Light and Shadows

Learn how light makes shadows and how you can change shadows.

Grades: 3-5

Light and Dark

Learn what things make light and what things reflect light.

Grades: 4-8

How We See

How does the angle of a mirror affect the light it reflects? Find out when you play, How We See.

Grades: 3-8

God of Light

This visual-rich puzzle game lets you become the God of Light that needs to activate the Sources of Life. Use mirrors to light all the sources of life.

Grades: 3-5

Robot Awake: Light Reflection

A fun puzzle game that teaches you about reflecting light. Wake the robots by directing the laser to power them to complete each level. There are 100 challenging levels that get more difficult as you proceed. Can you solve them all?

Grades: 3-5

Laser Light Reflection

An 18-level puzzle game all about reflecting light. Position the mirrors where they will reflect light to specific targets. Figure out how to get around the obstacles in your way!

Grades: 8 - Adult


A 40-level game all about reflecting light. Place blocks where the light beam will be reflected to hit a target.

All Ages

A Collection of Physics Games

Experience gravity or other forces, discover the states of matter, test your knowledge of the universe, or revise some essential physical quantities, such as weight, volume, direction, and mass … in short, games to test your intuition and discover physics in fun new ways.

Hands-On Optics Activities

Grades: 4-12

Make a Hologram Viewer

Use the template and an acetate sheet to create a hologram viewer for your smart phone or tablet. 

Grades: 4-12

Safely View an Eclipse

Want to safely see the eclipse this April 8th? This video will show you how to make a viewer from simple household materials.

Grades: K-8

Learn About Optics

Learn about Optics with these hands-on activities and projects. Make a pinhole camera or Periscope. Find out if candy can make sparks.

Grades: 9-Adult

Photonics Teaching Resources

What is a quantum computer? Learn about the amazing future in Computers and AI.

Grades: 1-4

How to Make a Rainbow

We often see beautiful rainbows during or right after a rainstorm, but did you know you can make a rainbow at home? Join Jessi and Squeaks from SciShow Kids to learn how!

Grades: 3-5

The Ultimate List of Light Experiments for Kids

From rainbow light refractions to exploring the visible spectrum, there are many fascinating and fun science projects about light to explore. These science lessons are fun, they'll keep you engaged, and wanting to learn more!

Grades: 6-8

Light & Optics for Kids

Explore over a dozen lessons and videos for kids and young adults all about how light behaves. From waves to refraction to Snell’s Law, this is an incredibly comprehensive and accessible way for growing minds to dig into this exciting topic. 

Grades: 9-12

Lens Activity: Looking Through Lenses

A hands-on lesson that explores two kinds of lenses, convex and concave, inviting you to observe their similarities and differences. This activity also tests what happens when using multiple lenses at the same time.

Optics Simulations for Kids

Grades: 9-12

Reflection and Refraction

Learn about light reflection and refraction by modifying the angle of incidence and the index of refraction of the media. Observe how the trajectories of the incident and refracted rays are changed, as well as the ray that is reflected.

Grades: 7-12

Convex Lens Simulation

Discover all about the convex lens, a piece of round glass that is thicker at the center than at the edges. Drag and drop a candle at different positions to see how the lens modifies the light beam's path to form different images.

Grades: 7-12

Concave Lens Simulation

Explore all about the concave lens, a piece of round glass that is thinner at the center than at the edges. Drag and drop a candle at different positions to see how the lens modifies the light beam's path to form different images.

Grades: 7-12

Interactive Newton's Prism

An interactive game that lets you reflect and refract light to experience physics with a Newton's prism. It places Newton's prism in the path of light and observes how reflection and refraction occur, depending on the medium and wavelength of light.

How Things Work!

Grades: 3-6

How Do Mirrors Work?

Have you ever caught your own reflection in a mirror, window, or pond, and wondered ... how do mirrors actually work? Watch this fun and informative episode of Colossal Questions, the show that answers all of life's most pressing questions.

Grades: 4-12

How Rainbows Form and What Shape They Really Are

If you thought rainbows were shaped like an arch, think again. Watch this fun and fascinating exploration of the science behind these colorful spectacles hosted by Nate Byrne from ABC NEWS Breakfast.

Grades: 5+

The Amazing Engineering Behind Cleaning Robots

Cleaning robots are one of the most popular home appliances, but how do they really work? Watch this fun, educational video about how these robots are designed, by stepping into the shoes of a robot developer.

Grades: 5-12

How The Brain Works

Watch this mindblowing video that dives into how the brain really works, including how scientists have recorded a 3D movie of an entire neural network moving throughout a living animal!

Grades: 6-12

How Do Remote Controls Work?

Learn the basics about how infrared remote controls work in this fun video from popular YouTuber, Rick Osgood.

Grades: 7-12

How Does Night Vision Work?

Night vision may look amazing in the movies, but what is it, exactly? How can a scope or a pair of goggles help you see in near-absolute darkness? Watch this informative video from BrainStuff to find out!

Grades: 9-12

Geometric Optics: A Crash Course

Sunlight, moonlight, torchlight, and flashlight. They all come from different places, but they’re the same thing: light! Watch this video all about how light behaves, and brighten your understanding of Optics.

Grades: 9-12

How Does A Rain Sensor Work?

Watch this ultimate guide to rain sensor operation and diagnosis with the help of animation aids.

All Ages

Cool Optics Videos

A collection of awesome videos made by Cory Boone and Company at Edmond Optics. Are lightsabers real? How heavy is a cloud? How do lighthouses work? Find all the answers here.

All Ages

The Human Eye

Have you ever noticed the black circle in your eye (Pupil) changes size?  Why and how do we see the world around us? Click to find out.

Science Publications for Kids

All Ages


The name says it all: NewsForKids.net was created by a teacher to make the news accessible to kids. They carefully choose high-interest science stories appropriate to the audience, and present them in a way that’s easy to understand.

All Ages

Science News Explores

An award-winning publication dedicated to providing topical stories on current events in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for children, their parents, and educators.

All Ages

Science A to Z

A respected science literacy product that provides comprehensive science units containing an extensive collection of multilevel texts, engaging lessons, and hands-on science experiments for kids.

All Ages

Science News for Kids

For over 22 years, Pitara has been creating, distributing, and licensing multicultural content to help us discover the simple joys of learning and exploring.

All Ages

Time for Kids: It’s Rocket Science

Part of the Your Hot Job series from Time for Kids, this article explores the exciting career of Joan Melendez Misner, an aerospace integration engineer at NASA.

Grades: 1-5

Ecosystem for Kids

A free website packed with loads of interactive materials for kids and educators. They have carefully aligned their materials to the science curriculum with activities developed for different levels, from first through fifth grades.

All Ages

Kids News: Optics

A free, news-based literacy tool for classrooms linked directly to the Australian curriculum. Providing new articles daily and three classroom activities per news article, these informative stories are written by teachers for teachers.

Educational Tools

There’s something uniquely accessible about Optics because they’re all around us – in our phones, cars, video game controllers, just to name a few. And experiencing what powers Optics is as simple as opening our eyes and seeing the light. Explore the links below* to help guide your students on their Optics journeys and open them up to a future full of possibilities.

NGSS Curriculum

Grades: 3-5

Sound and Light

An 11-part unit where students are provided with an understanding of sound and light waves through a "sunken treasure" theme — a continuous storyline throughout the lessons.

Grades: 3-5

20/20 Vision

A hands-on activity where students measure their own eyesight and calculate the average eyesight value for the class. They learn about technologies to enhance vision and how engineers play an important role in developing these technologies.

Grades: 6-8

Waves: The Three Color Mystery

Using the legacy cycle as a model, this five-part unit is designed to teach wave properties, the electromagnetic spectrum, and the anatomy of the human eye in an interactive format that introduces engineering applications and real-world references.

Grades: 6-8

Laser Light Properties

Protect the Mummified Troll! Students learn and use the properties of light to solve this fun challenge.

Grades: 6-8

How Does a Color Sensor Work?

This interactive lesson helps students learn more about how color sensors work, reinforcing their similarities to the human sense of sight.

Grades: 6-8


An eight-part curriculum where students learn how using spectrographs helps people understand the composition of light sources. Students create and customize their own spectrographs using simple materials, including holographic diffraction gratings - just like engineers.

Grades: 6-8

Biomedical Devices for the Eyes

Students examine the structure and function of the human eye, while exploring their own design process through the associated activity to help prevent sports-related eye injuries.

Grades: 6-8

Technologies to Measure Eye Pressure

Students discover how radio-frequency identification (RFID) technologies transfer energy through waves and how engineers apply this knowledge to develop devices that measure the pressure in the eyes of people with glaucoma.

Grades: 9-12

Designing a Spectroscopy Mission

A hands-on activity where student teams design and build their own spectrographs, researching and designing a ground- or space-based mission using their creation.

Grades: 9-12

What Does Light See?

This multi-part lesson introduces students to refraction, and asks them to think like engineers to apply that knowledge to real-life scenarios.

Grades: 9-12

Quantifying Refraction

This multi-part lesson helps students learn the relevant equations for refraction (index of refraction, Snell's law) and how to use them to predict the behavior of light waves in specified scenarios.

Grades: 9-12

Concentrated Solar Power

Students learn how the total solar irradiance hitting a photovoltaic (PV) panel can be increased using a concentrating device, such as a reflector or lens.

Grades: 9-12

Electromagnetic Waves - How Do Sunglasses Work?

Students learn about the scientific and mathematical concepts around electromagnetic light properties that enable the engineering of sunglasses for eye protection.

Grades: 9-12

Electromagnetic Radiation

An interactive unit where students solve the hypothetical question: how to apply an understanding of nanoparticles to treat, detect, and protect against skin cancer.

Grades: 9-12

Robotics Peripheral Vision

Designed for advanced programming classes, this unit leads students through a study of human vision and computer programming simulation.

Grades: 9-12

RGB Color Mixing

An interactive challenge where students move through the engineering design process as they write Arduino code and use a “digital sandbox” to create new colors out of the three programming primary colors: green, red, and blue.

Optics Simulations, Labs, Teaching Tools, and Videos

Grades: 6-12

Edmund Optics Scientific Outreach

Edmund Scientific Outreach to high school and middle school students. Edmund Scientific offers an array of learning opportunities including classroom and community experiences, educational resources, and outreach support. Videos and ask an engineer sections. 

All Ages

Laser-Tec Lessons and Course Teaching Materials

A curated selection of teaching tools from Laser-Tec, founded by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Program.

All Ages

Physics Video Tutorials

A wide-ranging list of physics-related videos presented by Physics Classroom. Videos are always being added, so check back often!

All Ages

Concave vs. Convex Lenses

Students learn all about concave and convex lenses through visual presentations and interactive quizzes presented by the technology company.

All Ages

oPhysics: Interactive Physics Simulations

A large collection of physics-related simulations ranging from light mixing, plane mirrors, and rainbow formation.

All Ages

SPIE Online Resources

A collection of Optics labs, lessons, videos and other resources from SPIE. The activities are hands on and virtual. Many have an engineering component.

All Ages

PhET Interactive Simulations: Color Vision

A creative simulation that helps students learn about color vision, examining the difference between single bulb and RGB bulbs. To access PhET teaching tools, a free online account must be set up.

Grades: K-8

Science Wiz: Light

Interactive activities, games, wordplay, and links that enrich and extend the content in the ScienceWiz™ Light book and kit (sold separately).

Grades: 6-8

Light & Optics for Kids

Explore over a dozen lessons and videos for kids and young adults about how light behaves. From waves to refraction to Snell’s Law, this is an incredibly comprehensive and accessible way for growing minds to dig into this exciting topic. 

Grades: 7-12

PhET Interactive Simulations: Wave Interference

Students learn how to make waves, design experiments, create an interference pattern with two sources, and determine ways to change the pattern. To access PhET teaching tools, a free online account must be set up.

Grades: 7-12

PhET Interactive Simulations: Basic Wave Behavior

An interactive simulation where students predict the behavior of waves through varying media and at reflective endpoints. To access PhET teaching tools, a free online account must be set up.

Grades: 9-12

PhET Interactive Simulations: Bending Light

An interactive simulation that teaches students about bending light, Snell’s law, and more. To access PhET teaching tools, a free online account must be set up.

Grades: 9-12

Physlet® Physics 3 Optics

Interactive illustrations, explorations, and problems for introductory physics, all related to Optics.

Grades: 9-12

Lens Activity: Looking Through Lenses

A hands-on lesson that explores two kinds of lenses, convex and concave, inviting students to observe their similarities and differences. This activity also tests what happens when using multiple lenses simultaneously.

Grades: 9-12

PhET Interactive Simulations: Lens and Mirrors

An interactive simulation that helps students explain how an image is formed by a converging or diverging lens or mirror using ray diagrams. To access PhET teaching tools, a free online account must be set up.

Grades: 9-12

Laser-Tec Professional Development and Resources

A series of online courses to help educators investigate and strengthen their knowledge of lasers, photonics, and fiber optics technologies.

Optics Magazines and Trade Journals

All Ages


Featured articles from the International Society for Optics and Phonetics (SPIE), including the latest news about all things Optics.

All Ages

Laser-Tec News

Laser-Tec publishes a monthly newsletter called the Optics and Photonics Education News (OPEN) where they share the latest news and updates in curriculum materials, resources, events, jobs for graduating students, as well as information related to partner colleges and members of the laser, Optics, photonics, and fiber optics industry network.

All Ages


A robust news source featuring daily coverage of the Optics and photonics industry and the markets that it serves.

All Ages

Physics News: Optics and Photonics

An enormous, constantly-updating collection of the latest Optics news.

All Ages


The largest online collection of peer-reviewed Optics and photonics content.

All Ages

Science Daily: Optics

Breaking news about the latest discoveries in science, health, the environment, technology, and more — from leading universities, scientific journals, and research organizations.

All Ages

Laser Focus World: Optics

A comprehensive Optics news resource featuring articles and other content that discuss precision Optical components, systems, and applications.

All Ages

The American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association (APOMA)

Represents a broad constituency of precision Optics manufacturers and the supporting industry, along with academic associates whose mutual interest is the advancement and expansion of Optics manufacturing and technology.

All Ages

SciTech Daily: Optics News

All the latest Optics news from SciTechDaily, specializing in science and technology news since 1998.

All Ages

Nature Portfolio: Optics and Photonics

A collection of Optics articles from Nature Portfolio, servicing the research community by publishing its most significant discoveries - findings that advance knowledge and address some of the greatest challenges we face as a society today.

All Ages

Science Journal for Kids & Teens

Hundreds of free scientific articles, written for kids and approved by scientists.

Optics Lab Supplies

Ages 11-18


Educational Fiber Optics Products

Learn about the world of fiber optics and lasers through an education product line for students and science enthusiasts created by Industrial Fiber Optics. This line includes kits, projects, and hands-on learning tools, plus curricula created for middle and high school students. 

All Ages


Optical Bench Set

This United Scientific Optical bench set from Fisher Scientific is designed for basic geometric Optics experiments, including imaging by lenses and mirrors.

All Ages


Complete Optical Bench and Attachment Set

This 40-piece set is a fully comprehensive Optical bench and kit relevant to an entire year of Optical coursework.

All Ages


PASCO Basic Optics System

The PASCO Basic Optics System is a comprehensive Optics set that supports more than a dozen hands-on investigations right out of the box. It’s a staple of university physics labs around the world.

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