In this work we present a simple and low cost setup that allows obtaining the light spectra and measuring the wavelength of its features. It is based on a cheap transmission diffraction grating, an ordinary digital camera and using Tracker software to increase measuring accuracy. This equipment can easily be found in most schools. The experimental setup is easy to implement (the typical setup for a pocket spectroscope) replacing the eye with the camera. The calibration is done using a light source with a well-known spectrum. The acquired images are analyzed with Tracker (freeware software frequently used for motion studies). With this system, we have analyzed several light sources. As an example, the analysis of the spectra obtained with compact fluorescent lamp allowed to recognize the spectrum of mercury in the lamp, as expected. This spectral analysis is therefore useful in schools, among other topics, to enable the recognition of chemical elements through spectroscopy, and to alert students to the different spectra of illuminating light sources used in houses and public places.
Video modelling is being used, nowadays, as a tool for teaching and learning several topics in Physics. Most of these topics are related to kinematics. In this work we show how video modelling can be used for demonstrations and experimental teaching in optics, namely the laws of reflection and the well-known Snell’s Law of light. Videos were recorded with a photo camera at 30 frames/s, and analysed with the open source software Tracker. Data collected from several frames was treated with the Data Tool module, and graphs were built to obtain relations between incident, reflected and refraction angles, as well as to determine the refractive index of Perspex. These videos can be freely distributed in the web and explored with students within the classroom, or as a homework assignment to improve student’s understanding on specific contents. They present a large didactic potential for teaching basic optics in high school with an interactive methodology.