Welcome to ILLUMINATE at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum!

We are so excited to be participating in this virtual celebration of light and dark.  This introductory activity is a good way to play with the light from your flashlight. Want more activities? Our education team has put together a whole collection of STEAM projects for families to do in the shadows. Check out them out here!

Activity 1: Traveling Light

Everyone who has used a flashlight knows that light goes in a straight line. While light cannot bend, it can reflect off a surface and give the appearance of changing direction.  When rays of light come in contact with any object, they bounce off and “bend” in various directions. A good way to picture this to tell a little story.

Imagine you are in a forest in a dark night. You have a flashlight and you are trying to find your way through the forest, but the light from the flashlight won’t go very far because it keeps bumping into all the trees and bushes. The light would go much further if you were in an empty parking lot, because it wouldn’t have a lot of objects in the way of the beam.

When light runs into a mirror it is reflected, and so it looks like the light stayed together rather than being scattered by bouncing off a lot of objects. In this activity, we are going to be making a ray of light run through a maze, controlling the direction it goes by using reflective surfaces.


  • Toys or Legos
  • Marbling Clay
  • Small Mirrors or Tin Foil
  • Flashlight


  1. Place toys and Legos around a small area hint: making you maze in a designated area, like on a blanket or a box top will make it easier to plan out your maze.
  2. Place small mirrors or pieces of foil in the path of the flashlight, remember, as the flashlight light is reflected, it will change course
  3. Place toys or other objects and see if you can use the mirrors to avoid having the light land on the toys
  4. Turn off the lights and turn on your flashlight-did the light travel on the path you expected?
  5. Turn the lights back on and adjust your mirrors. Continue to add onto your maze-how big and elaborate can you make the maze?