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Light & Optics

Use experiments to teach science

What do pinholes teach us about optics? What is the difference between convex and concave lenses? How do you measure the focal length of a lens? How were the first telescopes designed using lenses? Lab activities dig into these questions and are great for classrooms or homeschool.

Are Your Students Engaged?

Are you looking for a way to engage kids in their science learning? Are you eager to see your students become scientists in your classroom?

That's the goal of this course...

Activity Highlights

Pinholes are magical. How can a tiny hole act like a lens? These labs will help you find out!


Study convex lenses to see how they can magnify and flip images. How do they compare to those in eye glasses?

Study concave lenses and see how they minimize the image. In other activities discover how lenses are used to make telescopes.


How do curved mirrors act like lenses? Do they enlarge or shrink the image? Find out in these activities.

What type of lens is inside our eye? What are the other parts of an eye's anatomy?


What's Included in the Course/Unit?

    • Written instructions include:
    › Simple directions (written to students)
    › Questions and worksheets
    › Explanations for the teacher
    › Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning (CER) cards
    › Answer keys to help with assessing student work.
    › List of materials and setup hints.

    › Course platform with a forum for asking questions if you need further clarification or support.
Enroll in Course for $37

Concepts and Topics Addressed in this Unit:

    ✦ Light coming from objects can be projected onto a screen.
    ✦ A pinhole will cast an image of whatever is behind it.
    ✦ Convex lenses can flip the image vertically and horizontally.
    ✦ Concave lenses don’t flip images.
    ✦ Concave and convex mirrors will make distinctly different types of images.
    ✦ Human eyes contain a convex sense that changes shape.
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​Invite students to become scientists in your classroom

As fellow scientists they need to learn to investigate, discover, measure, observe, examine...

And these skills take time and repetition.


But repeating stuff can be boring…

That’s where labs come in! 

Many of the labs are teaching the same fundamentals but use different materials to keep things interesting.


What if you don’t have time to research the science behind a concept?

I’ve got you covered... Sections in the written instructions and the videos should answer your questions. Here you’ll also find hints and helps for running an activity. Additionally, the Teacher Notes sections will give you plenty of background information. You won’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

How are these activities best taught?

It's up to you! Most will work well as an all-class activity and many can work as independent station work as well.

Is there anything for early finishers?

You can use some of the activities as independent work by setting them up as stations or task boxes so kids can keep discovering.

When does the course start?

This course is a collection of lessons to use in your classroom. You can start as soon as you sign up!

Can I access these resources from my phone or tablet?

Sure! It works well on any device.​

Do I have to go in order?

Nope! You can use the lessons in any order—I always arrange them in a way I think makes sense, however since students in my classes worked at their own pace, they also tended to do the lessons in their preferred order. Within each section, the lessons progress from concrete to more abstract and from fundamental concepts to more tangential ones.

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for teachers to give them hands-on resources to teach middle school science.

Will this course work for homeschoolers?

I think so, though my background is classroom teaching. It’s not designed like a plug and play course. It’s a collection of activities that will help you teach the content.

What if I am unhappy with the course?

We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

How long do I have access to the course?

After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course - across any and all devices you own.

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Meet the author...

Hi, I'm Carolyn Balch, the author of Engaging Science Labs. I started my career as a high school physics teacher. Then I entered the field of museum education at the National Air and Space Museum (part of the Smithsonian Institution) where I wrote science education materials and ran teacher workshops. When my children were born, I left the workforce and when they were little, our family got involved with a school start up. My children grew and with them, the school; 


I volunteered on a weekly basis, running science experiments for my son's class and joined the faculty as the middle school science teacher when the seventh grade was added. Now I write full-time, working to publish the curriculum I developed while I was teaching. Each online course is a unit of study from a hands-on, laboratory-experience perspective.

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