Celebrate the holidays with this Thanksgiving science experiment! Gather friends or family and see how many mirrors you can use to bounce the laser back and forth in the below STEM activity.
- Handheld mirrors
- Image of turkey
- Laser pointer
Print out an image of a turkey to use as a target and hang it on a wall. Have each person playing, hold a mirror, except for one person who can operate the laser pointer. Try to pass the light by reflecting the beam from one person to another using the mirrors and, finally, to the turkey target. If it is difficult at first, try by starting with one mirror, and gradually add more mirrors to see how many laser reflections you can add while still hitting the turkey! Take turns holding the laser pointer!
Educators: Use this activity in the classroom with these modifications!
To do this activity with a larger number of students, break the class into teams of five students each and have provide one laser pointer, four mirrors and one turkey target to each group.
What are we learning? The science behind it.
National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductees Rangaswamy “Sri” Srinivasan, James Wynne and Samuel Blum invented excimer laser surgery, which is used in LASIK and PRK eye surgery to correct the eyesight of millions of people. They believed that the excimer laser could be used to make clean, precise cuts in delicate tissue without damaging nearby cells, but first they needed to test their idea. Luckily that day, Srinivasan had brought in his leftover Thanksgiving turkey. On November 27, 1981, the trio aimed the excimer laser at the leftover bits of turkey cartilage and bone, put the tissue under the microscope, and saw that it indeed had made a clean incision without affecting the nearby tissue! They then conducted a series of experiments using the laser on the leftover turkey dinner to gather data and hone their techniques. This Thanksgiving be sure to give thanks to that bird and the NIHF Inductees that gave us a new form of laser surgery!
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