Built for Brilliance: Structural Color

120 minutes
Two 60-minute sessions
Primary subjects: 
Environmental Education, Science
Grade: 
9, 10, 11, 12
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About

This lesson begins with students recalling what they know about light. They then acquire a clearer understanding of how light behaves by recreating the classic double-slit experiment. A video gives students perspective on how difficult the concept of light can be to understand and how the double-slit experiment helps clarify its fascinating properties. In the second session, students view a presentation that covers the concepts of light, color, electromagnetic waves, and wave interference. They consider how pigments create color versus how structures can create color and iridescence. Through an investigation of the blue morpho butterfly and other organisms, students learn how nature can use structures to create enduring and impressive colors. They then look at an example of one company that is using structure to create color in materials, and they brainstorm their own ideas about how structural color might be used in human creations in the future.

Co-authored by the Biomimicry Institute.

Key objectives for students
Define light, and explain how the double-slit experiment illustrates properties of light.
Define color, and explain how humans perceive color.
Describe how light varies in wavelength.
Explain how light wave interference occurs and how it can create structural color.
Provide examples of structural color in nature.
Discuss existing biomimicry applications of structural color, and brainstorm new ideas.
Secondary subjects
Art, Biology, Career Technical Education (CTE), Language Arts, Physics, Social Studies
Topics
Biomimicry, sustainability, nature, electromagnetic waves, wavelength, wave interference, spectrum, structural color, visible light
Skills
Collaboration, Communication skills, Creative problem solving, Critical Thinking, Systems thinking
Values
Empathy, Mindfulness, Optimism, Resilience
Methods
Brain-Based Learning, Design Thinking, Multi-Disciplinary, Multiple Intelligences, Real-World Application, Technology Integration
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