Electromagnetic Spectrum Activities

What is a Wave? Introduction to the Electromagnetic Spectrum
There will be a sequence of six booths introducing students to the electromagnetic spectrum. The first booth in the series introduces the concept of a wave.

Radio Waves
Describe radio waves as part of the EM spectrum.

Microwaves and Speed of Light
Measure the speed of microwaves [and therefore also of light] using a microwave oven, some old bread, and a ruler.

Infrared Light
How does using infrared light help us understand the Universe?

Visible Light – Spectrographs
The light from the Sun is a combination of colors that, to our eyes, look white. A rainbow or light from a prism is white light broken up into its constituent colors. This exhibit will allow participants to experiment with a scientific instrument called a spectrograph that can break light up into its colors, much like a prism.

EM Spectrum – Ultra-Violet
Learn about UV light – one of the most dynamic part of the Sun’s EM spectrum. Learn what materials UV light can go through and what materials can block UV light to protect yourself from this form of ionizing radiation.

X-Rays/Gamma Rays/Modeling Black Holes
Gamma rays and X-rays have the greatest energy and smallest wavelengths in the EM Spectrum. They can be produced by violent events in Space, such as supernovas, formation of Black Holes, pulsars, and other processes. We will model formation of Black Holes and provide additional activities to understand their behavior.

American Geosciences Institute: Earth Science Week
Explore the spectrum of electromagnetic energy with Earth Science Week! Visitors will have the opportunity to understand how scientists use tools to visualize a wide range of types of energy, even forms they can’t see. Geoscientists can use spectra scopes to understand what elemental gasses and solids exist in certain areas, and then use that information to interpret the formation of rocks, planets, stars and more. Earth Science Week will be distributing special sprectro-glasses to allow guests to view how light separates into bands of color.

The Earth Science Week booth will allow visitors to explore a range of techniques for identifying minerals, including an activity modeling remote sensing and an area showcasing fluorescent minerals. In regular light these minerals look like just another rock, but under ultra-violet light (also known as “black light”) we can see the minerals glow with fantastic bright colors.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) studies the universe at infrared wavelengths. Come see yourself in infrared and experiment with different materials and temperatures. How does using infrared light help us understand the universe?

APRAD stands for Autonomous Portable low Frequency Receiver and Display. It is an app that you can install in your Android phone to record, create and view signals from sound waves and electromagnetic waves and understand the mathematics behind such signals. Visit us at the AGU Exploration Station to SEE the signals around you, and explore the ways to use APRAD in experiments.