Rainbow Science

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With all the talk about rainbows this month, whether cooking or crafting, it was time to get scientific. What exactly makes a rainbow appear? Today Travis and I answered the question in two ways, one more scientific, and one more artsy!

First, following the lesson plan provided by Raddish Kids, we did a visualization exercise. This was a first for Travis, but with a few prompts he got the idea. I told him to close his eyes and imagine and rainbow. He said he could see his rainbow through the trees in the morning, and it was star-shaped! Guide your child through this: what does the air feel like? Where is the rainbow? What time of day is it?

Next we did the quick run-down on the science. Raddish Kids provided two great video links to add some visual fun to hte science.

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We watched a few suggested video clips, to understand the science behind refraction. Raddish provides a very detailed write-up that older children can study, too.

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Next up was a challenge: Could Travis make a visual of a rainbow that not only showed all the colors, but also showed how the rainbow is formed? It turns out this is called process art, and I laid down lots of material for Travis to choose from but provided little direction beyond that.

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He decided he wanted a ribbon rainbow, so used lots of glue to adhere the lengths.

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I was so proud when he realized he was gluing in the wrong order, and fixed things with his red placed first!

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Next he needed to add the science part. He chose to use marker for sun and rain drops, and cotton balls for clouds. Now he had all the ingredients necessary for a rainbow to form!

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I made a second version alongside him to show him how open-ended this project is: cotton ball clouds, tin foil raindrops, and pom poms for my sun and rainbow.

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Finally, we formed a rainbow with science! Place a prism in a glass of water. Shine a flashlight or other light source on it.

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Hold up a piece of white paper behind the glass, and you should see a rainbow reflected on the paper. It’s a bit tough to see in the photograph, but it was there!

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