Geometrical Optics

Optical Elements

PIRA: 6A10.05

Description: Optical equipment that can show a variety of effects.

  • Corner Cube
  • Concave and Convex Mirrors
  • Full view mirrors
  • Spherical Mirror
  • Refraction Tank
  • Birefringent Crystals
  • Fresnel Lens


Blackboard Optics

PIRA: 6A10.10

Description: A kit of optical elements to perform most optical experiments with ray diagrams.

  • Plane Mirror
  • Concave and Convex Mirrors
  • Curved Mirrors
  • Refraction
  • Thin Lenses


Laser & Plane Mirror

PIRA: 6A10.15

Description: The incidence of light such as a thin beam of light from a laser is reflected off the plane mirror at an angle identical from the normal of the mirror. The equal angles of incidence and reflection in relation to the normal of the mirror follow the law of reflection.


Refraction Tank, Laser & Mirror

PIRA: 6A10.16


Disappearing Light Bulb

PIRA: 6A20.36

Description: A light bulb socket is mounted upside down inside a box. Outside the box, directly above the socket, another light bulb socket is mounted. Only the socket inside the box has a bulb and power connected to it. By using a concave mirror, the bulb inside the box appears to be outside the box when the bulb is lit. When the power is turned off the bulb seems to disappear.


Brewster’s Angle Overhead

PIRA: 6A42.49


Total Internal Reflection

PIRA: 6A44.20

Description: Refraction tank


Laser & Fiber Optics

PIRA: 6A44.40

Description: A laser is used with a bundle of fiber optics, a curled Plexiglas rod, and a 1″ square lean rod. As light passes through, the laser light is seen at the other end of the Plexiglas rod.


Fiber Optics Tree

PIRA: 6A44.44

Description: A lamp with optical fibers.


Projected Filament with a Lens

PIRA: 6A60.30

Description: A large simple lens can focus the filament of an aircraft landing light onto the wall. Try to project an image with a thin concave lens.


Broken Lens

PIRA: 6A60.33

Description: The broken lens can be used to show a whole image of an object even though there is only half of a lens. The image is complete but less intense than the image projected by a full lens of the same size and focal length.


Pinhole Camera

PIRA: 6A61.20

Description: A tiny hole is made in the center of one side of a box and wax or opaque paper lines the side opposite the hole. When it is held up to a light source the image will show on the paper.


Spherical Aberration Model

PIRA: 6A65.40

Description: A model made of strings where each string represents a different ray.



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Inverse Square Model

PIRA: 6B10.15

Description: A wire frame pyramid connects areas of 1, 4 and 16 units.


Crookes’ Radiometer

PIRA: 6B30.11

Description: A pinwheel inside of a glass bulb with partial vacuum rotates due to infrared radiation pressure.


Variac & Light Bulb

PIRA: 6B40.10

Description: Vary the voltage to a 1KW light bulb with a variac to show color change with temperature.


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Single Slit & Laser

PIRA: 6C10.10

Description: Shine a laser beam through single slits of varying widths onto a wall.


Adjustable Slit & Laser

PIRA: 6C10.15

Description: Shine a laser through an adjustable slit of varying widths to view the changing interference patterns.


Poisson’s Spot

PIRA: 6C20.10

Description: Shine a laser at a small ball or pin and look at the diffraction.


Knife Edge Diffraction

PIRA: 6C20.15

Description: Slowly move a knife edge into a laser beam and view the interference due to the sharp edge of the blade.


Thin Wire Diffraction

PIRA: 6C20.20

Description: Place a small diameter wire or human hair in a laser, for example a .22 mm diameter wire, and measure the diameter by the diffraction pattern.


Pinhole Diffraction

PIRA: 6C20.30

Description: View interference due to a circular opening.

pinhole diffraction
Pinhole is not quite a perfect circle. Can still see the interference pattern.

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Double Slit & Laser

PIRA: 6D10.10

Description: Shine a laser beam through double slits of different widths and spacing and observe the interference patterns.


Modulated Laser

PIRA: 6D10.40

Description: A voltage modulated laser that optically transmits sound.


Gratings & Laser

PIRA: 6D20.15

Description: Various mesh and screens with various arrays that produce interesting patterns.


Transmission Gratings on Overhead

PIRA: 6D20.20


Newton’s Rings

PIRA: 6D30.10

Description: Newton’s rings will show interference patterns in the form of rings when placed on the overhead projector. The rings can be moved by adjusting the tension screws on the outer rim of the metal frame.


Soap Film Interference

PIRA: 6D30.20

Description: Reflect white light off a soap film onto a screen.


Moire Patterns Kit

PIRA: 6D30.32


Michelson Interferometer

PIRA: 6D40.10

Description: Use a Michelson interferometer with a laser. Pass the light onto a wall.


Microwave Interferometer

PIRA: 6D40.20

Description: By using a microwave emitter and a detector, an interferometer can be fashioned. When the apparatus is configured as an interferometer, the wavelength of the emitted microwave signal can be determined. A speaker connected to the receiver will audibly indicate the intensity of the signal from the emitter.


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Color Filters

PIRA: 6F10.20

Description: Cyan, magenta, and yellow filters are available as loose squares or fixed in a Plexiglas holder for use on the overhead projector.

Color Addition

PIRA: 6F10.21

Description: Three overhead projectors with filters of red, blue and green.


Sunset on the Overhead

PIRA: 6F40.10

Description: The sunset demo shows Raleigh scattering by using a 4L beaker, sodium-thiosulfate, and a catalyst. A particulate is created when the catalyst is added to the water / sodium-thiosulfate solution. The light that is projected to the wall changes from blue to orange red as the particulate increases.


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Polaroids on the Overhead

PIRA: 6H10.10

Description: Show polarization with two sheets of Polaroid and a pair of sunglasses on an overhead projector.


Karo Syrup Polarization

PIRA: 6H10.40


Brewster’s Angle Polarizers

PIRA: 6H20.10

Description: Rotate a Polaroid filter in a beam that reflects at Brewster’s angle off a glass onto a screen.


Two Calcite Crystals

PIRA: 6H35.10

Description: Use a second calcite crystal to show the polarization of the ordinary and extraordinary rays.


Sunset with Polarizers

PIRA: 6H50.10

Description: The sunset demo shows Rayleigh scattering by using a fish tank, thiosodiumsulfate, a catalyst, and a carbon arc lamp. A particulate is created when the catalyst is added to the water / thio solution. The light that is projected to the wall changes from blue to orangish red as the particulate increases. A rotating polarizer can be placed in front of the tank to show polarization by scattering.


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The Eye


Eye Model

PIRA: 6J10.10


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Modern Optics



PIRA: 6Q10.10


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