Family Team STEAM Challenge: Kaleidoscope

V1 Staff

It’s a starry, starry night (or day!) with this issue’s Family STEAM Challenge! This activity invites families to inquire and observe the reflection of light and the colors and patterns it creates.

The Topic

Observing the way light brings color to our world!

The Mission

Use your sense of sight and creativity to build a unique kaleidoscope. Explore colors and shapes in the summer sun!

The Apparatus

A homemade kaleidoscope.

The Challenge

Design your kaleidoscope and predict and observe what the light will do to the sequins and glitter you choose to incorporate.

Materials you could use (but are not limited to)

Pringles can  
Aluminum foil
Hammer and nail
Glue and tape
Contact paper or clear folder sleeve
Tissue paper, glitter, sequins

Incorporating the Arts

STEAM is all about including the arts with the sciences. This challenge is completely dependent on your design. Pick out your favorite shapes and colors! Make it as unique as you are!


Roll the aluminum foil into the empty, clean Pringles can. Then cover the outside of the can in any kind of stickers, paper or paint you want! Glue the sequins, glitter and tissue paper to the inside of the lid. Use a hammer and nail to punch an eyehole in the sealed end of the can. Now for the second color lens: You’ll use contact paper or a clear folder sleeve. Design this in a similar way as the lid. Put the decorated contact paper on top of the can opening first, gluing or taping it tight to the can, then put the decorated lid on top.

Questions to Mull Over

What colors and shapes do you see as you twist your kaleidoscope lid?

How will light from the sun impact what we see inside the kaleidoscope? 

Why does the light bounce off the aluminum foil? 

Why do different colors exist?

How does the way we see light and colors in a kaleidoscope compare to the way we see colors in a rainbow?

How would less light impact the colors we see?

The Family STEAM Challenge is all about experimenting with the ordinary to make the extraordinary! Chippewa Valley Family challenges your family to think and play together all in the name of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (that’s where the STEAM comes in).

Each challenge can be completed as a family or a group of friends in as little or as much time needed; however, most challenges can be completed within one sitting. The Family STEAM Challenge is also designed to get all ages involved through hands on experimenting. So get ready to put your collective thinking caps on to design a seriously cool apparatus made almost entirely out of reusable or recyclable materials laying around the house.