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Optics Demos

Click on any link in order to view the demonstration with an instructional video. Additionally, there are procedure/activity plans listed for some of the demonstrations below. If you have an idea for an activity plan, download the demonstration template from the navigation panel, fill it out and email it to

Chalkboard Diffraction

A variety of lenses and mirrors that stick directly to the chalkboard with a laser box that also sticks to the chalkboard. Shows the diffraction/reflection of the rays of light as it passes through lenses or is reflected off of mirrors.

Convex and Concave Mirrors

Two large concave and convex mirrors that demonstrate the apparent image of objects as they pass through or approach focal points.

Diffraction of Light in Different Mediums

Tank filled half with water (with scattering fluid) and half with smoke. Laser is then shot into the tank to show that diffraction of light through different mediums.

CAUTION: Laser should never be pointed towards audience or user.

Diffraction from Home

This demo can be done in your home with thin objects like hair, needle using laser pointer.

Inverse Square Law

If you are looking at a light bulb, then you double your distance from it, it would only appear to be a quarter as bright. We can demonstrate this using a meter stick and some paper

Laser and the Balloon

A powerful laser and two balloons are set up to show that the laser can pop the balloons.

CAUTION: Due to the nature of this demonstration, someone from the lecture demonstration staff will set this out right before the lecture and remove it immediately after. It cannot be left out for extended periods of time without supervision and only the professor demonstrating the apparatus should operate it. Protective eye wear (provided) should be worn by user while laser is on. Under no circumstances should laser ever be directed towards audience!

Optical Pig

Two concave mirrors facing each other with a hole in the top such that objects may be put in this apparatus. The resulting focal point of light creates a hologram. Current object is a small plastic pig.


Two slinkies that, when driven at different frequencies, demonstrate wave properties.

Spectral Lines

Variety of element tubes and gratings are supplied. When students look through gratings, only certain lines appear depending on the element tube.

Wave Model

Wave model. Two different models: one that has varying length bars and one that has same length bars. Tap on the bars to see how waves will propagate through.

Mechanical Wave Model

Mechanical waves model with crank on back that shows transverse, longitudinal, and water waves all at the same time.