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Students will love building this miniature spectroscope that incorporates a piece of CD as the diffraction grating. You'll be surprised by how excited they are when they return with the spectroscope and the completed data collection. Younger students can build the device and marvel at what they see. Bonafide physics students should be able to apply what they’ve learned. It costs 2-5 cents per student to build.
This activity includes teacher instructions with problem solving suggestions, an activity or data sheet for students, a rubric for students to prepare a short paper about how a spectroscope works and its uses, and a set of colored EMR spectra for student use. I did not design the spectroscope. I designed these materials to use it. The spectroscope design and pattern is free online and I have included a pdf of it as well.
This is one of my favorite activities. It works in chemistry or physics, at upper or lower levels, and it's fine to build it for the oh my goodness isn't that amazingness of science.