We all know about rainbows – after a storm, sunlight passes through raindrops at just the right angle and the light is bended – what scientists call refraction – into different wavelengths that appear to our eyes as different colors.

You also know that lots of substances emit light – burning wood or coal, metals that have been heated, hot gases, and of course filaments and most recently LEDs emit useful light that we use every day. All these substances emit light at different wavelengths, and the wavelengths are dependent on what elements those substances contain. Substances also absorb light at different wavelengths, and similarly the absorption wavelengths are dependent on the elements in that substance. We can determine what elements are present by measuring the wavelengths of light emission or absorption. To do this we use an instrument called a spectroscope.

Many elements were unknown to mankind until we discovered them using a spectroscope, like cesium and rubidium. In fact, the primary way we know the composition of distant stars and other objects in space is by spectroscopy. In this workshop you are going to make your own spectroscope, so you can begin to find out what elements everything is made of, and it is only going to take an hour or so to make it!

This workshop is fun and educational for kids of all ages – check the schedule for time and location!

To learn more and to sign up for AgoraFest 2017: