Introduction: The Ray Box experiment is a discovery-based activity. Students will develop an understanding of principle of light: plane reflection, lateral inversion, curved reflection, refraction, lenses, dispersion, and the primary additive colors of light.


Timing: This activity should take about 90 minutes to complete.


Group Size: Small groups (3 or 4)


Learning Objectives: The objective of this lab/activity is to introduce the following key concepts:

-Reflection of light

-Lateral inversion

-Curved reflection of light

-Plane and curved refraction


-Dispersion of light

-Primary color combinations

-Complementary colors


Guiding Question: What are the many phenomena of light?


Materials: This lab requires a plane white paper, ruler, pencil, power supply (depending on the ray box, and ray box.

My ray box of choice is not cheap, but it is well worth the money:

There are cheaper version out there if budgeting is an issue:

Making a ray box is doable if you have the time. I have not found any plans online yet. I’ll update this if I do.

Photocopy enough activity sheets for each student.


The procedure is very straight forward. Make sure students pay attention to the number of slits they should be using. The room should be as dark as possible for this activity, especially the color combination. Students should cover the end of the box they are not using, as to reduce excess light in the room.

The color combination can be the only tricky part. The folding windows on the back of the ray box can be used to combine two or three colors at once. If students are only combining two, make sure the other folding window is closed. Colors are tough to see with ambient light. Using books to create a barrier for light pollution may help.

The Ray Box is a collaborative learning activity. To succeed, students will need to work together, follow instructions, label their diagrams, and use their time wisely.


Assessment: This activity should be graded for the correctness of drawings and color combinations. The rest of the questions are subjective.


Answer Key:

None provided

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467