Hands-on Activity: Lasers, Let's Find 'Em!
Finalist - 2009 Premier Curriculum Award for K-12 Engineering
Educational Standards :
Pre-Req Knowledge (Return to Contents)
Students should have a basic understanding of light properties, how lasers work and how excited matter emits different color photons, as provided in this unit's lessons 2 and 3: Learning Light's Properties, and Laser Types and Uses (which includes the Making an Electric Pickle demo and Red/Green Lasers through Different Mediums demo).
Learning Objectives (Return to Contents)
After this activity, students should be able to:
This activity also meets the following Tennessee Foundations of Technology educational technology content standards: 1.4, 3.2, 4.2, 4.3, 5.3, 6.1, 7.2, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 and 8.4; see http://www.state.tn.us/education/cte/
This activity also meets the following International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards: 1.1, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 6.1, 6.2; see http://www.iste.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=NETS
Materials List (Return to Contents)
Each group needs:
Introduction/Motivation (Return to Contents)
What types of lasers can you name? From what we explored in the Making an Electric Pickle demo (see Laser Types and Uses lesson), what do you know about chemical compounds and their affect on color? Do you think there is a relationship between laser names and the chemical compounds associated with the type of radiation they emit? Have you ever heard of a HeNe laser, or how about an argon laser?
In today's activity, we will explore the various types of lasers, why they are named what they are named, and what their uses are in science and technology today. After researching your assigned laser type, you will create a PowerPoint presentation, a small film clip, or a pamphlet to present to the class. At the conclusion of the presentations, each of you should be able to select the most appropriate laser to be used in the mummified troll security system. Further, you should each understand how lights' properties in various mediums enable the system to detect movement near the troll.
Vocabulary/Definitions (Return to Contents)
Procedure (Return to Contents)
Before the Activity
With the Students
Attachments (Return to Contents)
Investigating Questions (Return to Contents)
Students need to address each of the following in their presentation of the laser type they researched:
Assessment (Return to Contents)
Activity Embedded Assessment
Participation Grade: Consider students' presentations and group contributions in formulating their daily participation grades.
Activity Extensions (Return to Contents)
Extension Question: After the students have seen each presentation of each laser type, have the students compare lasers that were presented. To help get this going, here is an example. This extension activity is intended to make the students think critically about which laser type would be best suitable for a given scenario.
You are mechanical engineer looking to cut through glass. You know that the smaller the wavelength is of the laser, the more suitable it is to cut through metallic materials. There are many lasers that could help you cut through glass, but there are only two lasers that are accessible to you and commonly available in the market:
Which laser would you choose and why? What type of project might the other laser be suitable for? [Answer: The CO2 laser (and other gas lasers) are typically used for wood, acrylic, glass, paper, plastics, leather, etc. – most materials besides metal. The fiber laser is used for metals and plastic generally.]
Guest Speaker: If students show an interest in one or more types of lasers, contact local university, college or industry organizations to inquire if someone can bring one for a classroom demonstration.
Activity Scaling (Return to Contents)
References (Return to Contents)
Dictionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group,LLC. Accessed August 7, 2008. (Source of vocabulary definitions, with some adaptation) http://www.dictionary.com
Townes, Charles H. (2003). "The First Laser," in Laura Garwin and Tim Lincoln: A Century of Nature: Twenty-One Discoveries that Changed Science and the World. University of Chicago Press, 107-12. ISBN 0-226-28413-1.
ContributorsTerry Carter (primary author)
Copyright© 2008 by Vanderbilt University
Including copyrighted works from other educational institutions and/or U.S. government agencies; all rights reserved. The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under a grant from the National Science Foundation RET grants no. 0338092 and 0742871. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.
Supporting Program (Return to Contents)VU Bioengineering RET Program, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University
Last Modified: September 2, 2014