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Make Your Own Rainbow

Word of the Week

Refraction (ree-frak-shun): The bending of a ray of light when it passes at an angle from one thing to another at a different speed. An example would be a ray of light passing from air to water. It comes from the late Latin word refractionem, meaning "a breaking up."


Spring is finally in the air, and I am loving it! I love seeing the green grass and trees budding. I love hearing the sound of birds again in the morning. I love that it stays lighter for longer. Soon, I'll be admiring all the colorful flowers outside. I'm sure I'll be admiring another colorful thing too. . .rainbows! Saturday, April 3rd is Find a Rainbow Day! You know the old saying about April showers, right? I'm gearing up for all the rain we will probably get. While rain can be dreary, I'm hopeful that I'll get to spot a few of those beautiful, magical arcs in the sky!

My word of the week is related to how rainbows form. The process is kind of complicated, but I'm going to do my best to simplify the explanation for you.

1. Rainbows need wet environments to be seen. If you see a rainbow in the sky, there has to be a lot of water in that area. The water can be teeny tiny droplets of mist. You might not see the water, but it is there.

2. The light from the sun then refracts through the water and forms the colors that you see.

3. Wait. How does the sun cause all of those beautiful colors in the sky? This sounds crazy, but the sun is actually made up of all those colors you see. You only get to actually see and appreciate those colors when rainbows appear.

How'd I do? Simple enough? So how else can we make rainbows appear? You can angle a mirror to hit sunlight and see a small pattern of light on your wall. You can grab the hose, spray water in your yard and look closely for the rainbow the water forms on a sunny day. Then there's my FAVORITE. You can make bubbles and see rainbow colors form on the bubbles. Talk about fun!

To better honor this holiday, I thought it would be fun for me to share some interesting facts about rainbows. Here we go!

- Rainbows are actually circular. They can only be seen as a circle when you're up in the sky. The ground gives it its arc shape.

- The refraction is 42 degrees. This means that in order for a rainbow to be seen, light must pass through the water droplets at that exact angle.

- Hawaii has the most rainbows in the entire world because of its tropical weather.

So, let's make some GIANT bubbles to really appreciate the rainbow! Here's how.

For the bubbles:

6 cups of distilled water

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup Dawn dish soap (regular, not ultra)

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1 tablespoon of glycerin (you can find it at your local pharmacy)

Mix thoroughly in large bowl. Use your hands if you need to! Skim off any bubbles that you see on the surface after mixing.

For the wand:

Two dowels

Two eye hooks

One large washer (or a few small)

Thick cotton string (not yarn)

Screw one eye hook into the end of each dowel. Cut two pieces of string- one about the length of your child's wingspan and the other twice as long. Tie the longer piece onto one of the eye hooks. Slide the washer(s) on the string, then tie the other end of the longer piece to the other dowel. Next, tie the shorter string through the same hooks. You will have almost created a string triangle with handles.


The bubbles can settle to the bottom, so be sure to use your hand and stir things up before you get started. Dip the string in the large bowl, hold your dowels apart, and catch some air to create your bubble!

Look at this giant bubble! It got a little out of control! Until next time!

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