Rainbows are something that all ages look at with awe and wonder. In this blog by author, Alom Shaha, we can “unweave” rainbows for greater understanding. It’s a lovely blog post.
I recently rescued an old overhead projector from a store cupboard full of disused equipment at the school where I work. OHPs used to be ubiquitous in schools until computer projectors and smart screens came along and made them obsolete. Luckily for me, the head of I.T. at the school hadn’t thrown this one away and said I could have it. I wasn’t planning a return to old-school teaching, writing out my notes on thin bits of plastic to project onto a board, no, I had one simple use in mind for this old bit of kit: to produce a nice big visible spectrum, or “rainbow” to show my students. There are lots of ways to show students that, if you take a beam of bright white light and shine it through a glass prism, it will split up into a spectrum of its constituent colours. However, none of these is quite as satisfying as using an OHP, which allows you to project an impressively big “rainbow” onto the wall or ceiling of your classroom. I did this in a lesson just last week and was rewarded with gasps of “ooh” and “wow” from my students.
There is an undeniable magic to rainbows. When one appears in the sky, most of us will stop and stare, and marvel at its wonderfulness as if it’s the first we’ve ever seen. As a science teacher, it is my job to help young people “unweave the rainbow”, to learn the physics of how they are formed. I can’t help but think Keats was wrong – doing this does not diminish their beauty; if anything, it enhances it.
I am one of many storytellers who have taken inspiration from rainbows. They’ve been depicted as bridges between worlds, celestial bows launching bolts of lightning, or as divine promises safeguarding against floods. However, it was a simple moment — watching my daughters’ delight in rainbow I made for them using the spray from a garden hose on a sun-drenched day — that planted the idea for what would become”How to Find a Rainbow.” But it’s not really a story about rainbows, it’s about friendship, and love, and finding wonder in the world even when there seems to be none.
How to find a Rainbow by Alom Shaha and Sarthak Sinha and is published by Scribe Books.