Science For Monks 2011


Light and Color

Day 7 Monday

Modesto Morning

Mayan Math Modesto shows the monks how to cast a secret vote on Mayan Math using their robes as shields.

modesto secret vote

Perspective view window  Use a transparent plastic to trace the world in perspective.

perspective view window


Modesto Night

Light Box

Lightbox, Build a simple lightbox out of a cardboard box.

Colored Shadows, add red green and blue light to make white, then subtract colors using shadows.

monks lightbox

Use mirrors to reflect colored beams of light from a lightbox onto white paper where they are added.


Day 8 Tuesday

Paul Morning


Slow Waves on a phonecord Explore the speed of waves on a phonecord.

Phonecord harmonics Study the harmonics of a phonecord

phonecord harmonics

Tape model of an electromagnetic wave, use electrically charged tapes to show that electric fields can cross empty space. Waves in the electric field are light.

charged tape

Paul Night

Spectrum of light sources, At night under the moon and stars with incandescent, fluorescent and LED lights to observe using compact disks.

Project a rainbow with a CD, Hold a compact disk in the sunlight and use the shiny side to reflect light onto a white wall in the shade. Notice the rainbow.

Build a spectrometer with a CD, Use a compact disk to  make a spectrometer to break light up into its component colors.

Diffraction Look at a bright point of light between two pencils and see bands of color, light and dark, which show light is a wave.

Peel a CD Scrape the coating off a CD to make a diffraction grating and look at lights.

night class


Day 9 Wednesday

Paul and Modesto for Eric

Neuroscience Perception

Red and green filters  Look through Green filters, red filters at red green and yellow papers.

lookthrough R G filters at yellow papwer

Benhams disk  Make color by spinning a black and white disk. Then make your own disk.

Paul Morning

Creating Activities and illustrated lecture.


Light Box Create a spectrum and Image finding.

Lightbox Spectrum

Use a bow full of water to break a beam of light into a spectrum. (Modesto then combined the colors using a cylinder full of water to make white again.)

Lightbox Real Image

Rays of light from a lightbox shine through a water filled cylinder converge to form a real image.

Lightbox Virtual Image


Subtractive colors with pens

Day 10 Thursday

Paul and Modesto for Eric


Distance of Nearest Vision Look through a pinhole at a pin and compare the distance of nearest vision to looking directly at the pin.

nearest vision     Pinhole Magnifier

Distance of nearest vision without and then with a pinhole. Looking at a pushpin through a pinhole gives a magnified image of the pushpin.

Peripheral vision Mark a disk with angles and move paddles with colors, shapes, and words around the rim while fixing one eye on a point. Note the angle from straight ahead where color shape and text become visible. (The disk should be at least 25cm in diameter.)

peripheral vision


Light Walk: Use white paper to find the shape of shadows under trees, they are circular disks. Make images on the paper using black paper with a triangle and square hole in it see circular disks. Use a mirror with a square black place to project a black sun image.


Self Centered globe  See the sunlight on earth, and feel the temperatures that result.

rectified Globe

A globe in the sun with the polar axis toward Polaris and the location on earth top-dead-center.

Reflect Sunlight onto opaque white paper using a CD to create patterns.

CD sun reflections

Monks break into 14 groups to prepare for Class then teach their lesson to one other small group.

Day 11 Friday

Monk Presentations.

Light Box Add two colors with mirrors Monks not only learned the lessons they learned our style of teaching. They take images with their phone cameras to document their work.

Finding Rays and making an image. Monks got more laughs than we did, They used two lenses to make an inverted image of a candle and then a second lens to invert the image to right side up.

Benham's Disk The monks play the role of Richard, Paul Modesto. Large Benham's disk. Provacation...large disk with "Welcome" written on it.

Stroop Effect: Time how long it takes to read the color of: colored squares on paper, words with the correct color, then color names in different colors, then random non-color words in color.

Bird In a Cage The Nuns made dozens of birds in different colors.

Reflexes: Do the reflex test, model neurons in pipe cleaners, do the neuron communication game.

Blind Spot Pass out the Blind Spot on paper and observe it.

Waves on phonecords and Paco Lopez Illusions.

Master Eye  Three ways point circle use 2 mirrors at right angles.

Sound Stretch a membrane across a cup, place dry rice on it, make the rice dance. Listen to tuning fork. Strike a spoon and listen to the sounds on a string. They already have a website!


More explorations of perception.

Expanding afterimages, Stare at the center of a colorful square then look at a distant wall, what size square do you see?

Moon Illusion, why does the full moon rise look larger on the horizon than at the zenith?

Size Constancy, Look at a person four steps away using outstretched arms place one hand on their head and one under their feet. Note the distance between the hands. Then have the person move eight steps away. Their image on your retina is half as high, do they look half as high?

Essay What is Science a personal view


Light travels in straight lines

Pinhole Use a pinhole in a film can to investigate the inversion of images on the retina.

Blind spot  Investigate your blind spot.

Blind Spot 2







Bird in the cage  Afterimage. Stare at the image of a red bird for 30 seconds then look at white paper. What is the color of the afterimage?


Stroop Effect, Name the color of the ink used to print the name of a color.(Available in Tibetan.)




Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty

© 2011

4 March 2011