UV Light and Sunglasses

Figure from experiment 16 from STEM with Vernier and LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT


Sunglasses have lenses that are darkened or colored to reduce the brightness of light entering the eye. Some people wear sunglasses because bright sunlight is uncomfortable. Other people wear sunglasses as a fashion accessory. Healthcare professionals recommend all people wear sunglasses to reduce the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation on the eyes.

The UV band is broken into three types referred to as UVA (with wavelengths of 320 to 400 nm), UVB (280 to 320 nm), and UVC (200 to 280 nm). The most harmful of these three, UVC light, is absorbed by oxygen and ozone in the atmosphere and does not reach the Earth’s surface. The ozone layer absorbs much, but not all, incoming UVB light. Some UVB light reaches the surface of Earth. UVA light is not affected by the ozone layer, and most reaches the surface of Earth. UVB light is commonly associated with sunburns, cataracts, and skin cancer. UVA light, while responsible for suntans, is also a cause of premature aging of the skin and some types of skin cancer.

In this experiment, you will conduct a study on the various types of sunglasses, and the levels of UVB light that pass through their lenses.


In this experiment, you will

  • Use a UVB Sensor to measure UVB light.
  • Determine the amount of UVB light allowed through an assortment of sunglasses.
  • Determine whether the UVB-blocking abilities of sunglasses change with lens tint.

Sensors and Equipment

This project/activity requires each of the following Vernier sensors and equipment (unless otherwise noted):

Additional Requirements

You will also need NXT Sensor Adapter and a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robotics system.

Download Project/activity Preview

The student-version preview includes:

  • Step-by-step instructions for computer-based data collection
  • List of materials and equipment

The preview does not include essential teacher information, safety tips, or sample data. We strongly recommend that you purchase the book for classroom use.

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Standards Correlations

No standards correlations for this experiment.

Project/activity 16 from STEM with Vernier and LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Lab Book

<em>STEM with Vernier and LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT</em> book cover

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Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include a CD with word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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