Lasers are cool, but what can you do with one? This is a great introductory activity into what lasers are, how they work, and how different mediums (like glass, feathers, mirrors, etc.) can change the direction of the beam.

Lasers are a monochromatic (one color) concentrated beam of light. This means that when compared with a flashlight, the laser delivers more punch on a light detector. The alignment is more critical (as you’ll find out when you zig-zag a laser through several mirrors), so take your time and do these experiments in a steamy, dark bathroom after a hot shower. That way, you’ll be able to see the beam and align your optics easily.
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9 Responses to “Easy Laser Light Show”

  1. Sure – find something else reflective that will work!

  2. Yes, that’s right. Did you see the video about laser safety?

    Here’s the highlights:

    What are the different kinds of lasers?

    Class 1 or Class I lasers do not emit hazardous levels of optical radiation. You’ll find theses types of lasers in the scanners of grocery stores at the check out counter. The beam paths and reflections are all enclosed.

    Class 2 or Class II lasers are low-power visible lasers around 1 mW (milliwatt), and you’d really have to try hard to get injured by one of these types of lasers. Officially, it’s stated that this type of laser can have possible eye damage if you stare at the beam directly without blinking for at least 15 minutes.

    Class 3 has two different levels of lasers, one being much more dangerous than the other.

    Class 3a or IIIa lasers are 1 to 5 mW power and can’t injure you normally, but if you stare at the beam through something with lenses, like binoculars, then your eyes are toast.

    Class 3b or IIIb lasers are lasers from 5mW to 500 mW, and these are the ones that cause eye injury with you look at them without any eye protection. These are NOT the ones you want kids playing with, as eye protection is always required when around these lasers.

    Class 4 or IV are above 500 mW and these require not only eye protection to be around, but also skin protection. These lasers cause damage by the beam and the reflections of the beam, and are also a fire hazard.

    Are laser pointers safe? When you use a laser like we did in our lab today, you didn’t aim them in people’s eyes or treat it like toy, right? That’s when they are safe. When you aim lasers at eyes, it focuses a lot of energy on the back of the eye in your retina and your retina can get damaged so you have a permanent blind spot.

  3. On the package of my laser, there was something that said there is some danger if you point it to someone’s eye, it that true?

  4. is it okay if you don’t have mirrors?

  5. tracy nelms says:

    I have seen this in a lantern flashllight ;-]

  6. Hi Tanya,

    I’ve sent you a private email with your access information.

  7. Tanya Koontz Orbaugh says:

    We have tried everything. Again, this worked last week for us. Also, other videos are fine. I called my husband to have him log in and try (we only have one computer at home). He kept getting denied access – “incorrect username or password”. Perhaps this happened because I was already logged in? On my computer, we are logged in automatically. However, I know I gave him the correct info. So, two questions. 1) video not working any more. 2) need to have username and password verification. Thanks for your assistance.

  8. Hmm… that doesn’t sound quite right. What if you:

    1. Hit PLAY then PAUSE and wait for it to load completely, then hit PLAY again. Did that work?
    2. Try a different computer?

    Let me know how it goes so I can help.

  9. Tanya Koontz Orbaugh says:

    Hi Aurora. My son just received all of his materials for this experiment however, upon visiting the video, found that it now stops at 6 min 27 sec. It did not have this problem last week. I told him it was just a glitch and you would be able to figure it out. He eagerly awaits. An exercise in patience. 🙂 Thanks for your attention to the matter.