Two types of light

Aurora Borealis as seen from Laberg, Salangen,...
Image via Wikipedia

In the growing darkness of the Northern Hemisphere where I live, November and December ushers in religious festivals of light.. Diwali, Hannukah and of course Christmas.

Light is a subject that children find fascinating. They can see and experience it and they are struck by the effects that it can make. One of the best examples of this was an assembly that I went to in a Primary (Elementary) school that I worked in. The teacher had been looking at “light” with her class and decided to show the rest of us just what colours were contained within the seemingly invisible light. She set up a projector and shone the light coming from it directly onto a carefully placed bowl of water…the refraction of the light caused rays (rainbow coloured) to appear on a screen a distance away and there was an audible gasp when this happened.

Light is important to art as well as science. There is the way that artists throughout the century have chosen to express the light or indeed the light directed their vision. In photography light is significant to the finished effect. The play of light and dark has influenced many film-makers throughout the years.

Humans have also managed to capture light and manipulate it to their own ends. From the simplistic lights on the Christmas Tree to the power of a laser light show the fascination that we have from light lasts within us all throughout our lives.

I have found two examples of videos that can be used to show both natural and man-made light in a project-based learning module that any age can usefully study at any time of the year… but particularly at this time of year.

The natural example is the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights seen in Northern Norway. This is nature’s own light show with the clouds but can be examined for its science or indeed its beauty (perhaps a poem or a reflection or a report).

The second is a video of the recent light shows in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. Here the whole of the inner city area is lit up at this time of year with brilliant light and music displays.  Again the science of light projection, 3D imaging and holography can be looked at but there is also the effects that we see and hear and the possibility of a poem, a report or just a description of what is seen and heard.

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