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DIY Polaroid Sunglasses

In this hands-on activity, you will create your own Polaroid sunglasses, which can help reduce glare and protect your eyes from harmful sunlight. Explore the science behind polarized light and learn about the importance of eye safety when dealing with the sun.

Develop these Key Competencies:

  • Problem Solving
  • Systems thinking
  • Self- Awareness
  • System Thinking

Materials needed

  • Thick paper or cardboard.
  • Scissors or cutter.
  • Polarised film (available at craft or optical stores) or tinted window film or similar (x-ray no longer in use)
  • Glue, tape or stapler.
  • Clips (2 per person)
  • Printed or copied template on thick paper or cardboard (provided in link)
  • Polarised film (available at craft or optical stores)
  • Optional: Paints and decorations for customization
Activity Description


  1. Print or copy the template provided on thick paper or cardboard.
  2. Carefully cut out the silhouette of the middle part and the earpieces of the sunglasses.
  3. Use scissors to cut out the squares in the middle part, where the glasses will be placed.
  4. Glue pieces of polarised film on the inside of the middle part, aligning them with the cutout squares.
  5. Fold the middle part along the long side, forming the frame of the sunglasses.
  6. Fold the left and right extremes of the middle part to attach the sunglasses' earpieces. You can fix them with a clip (for adjustability) or glue.
  7. Optional: Paint and decorate your sunglasses to make them unique and stylish.


Exploring the Science Behind Polarized Light

Light exhibits an intriguing property known as polarization, which refers to its oscillation in specific planes. When light encounters a polarized film, it permits only light waves travelling in a particular plane to pass through while blocking others. This unique characteristic proves beneficial as it helps reduce glare and safeguards our eyes from intense light, such as sunlight reflecting off smooth surfaces.

The property of light polarization stems from its transverse nature, unlike longitudinal sound waves. Normally, light is unpolarized, indicating that its source oscillates in multiple planes simultaneously. For instance, an ordinary incandescent light bulb emits unpolarized light, similar to the Sun.

Polarization, in essence, involves allowing only waves travelling in a specific plane to pass, as if employing a horizontal slit that permits flat waves while causing others to collide and return. This phenomenon significantly reduces light intensity, ensuring it does not harm our eyes.

When light reflects off nonmetallic surfaces like the smooth water surface of a lake, it becomes partially polarized parallel to the surface.

Given that many exterior surfaces are horizontal, Polaroid glasses are designed with vertical axes to eliminate the horizontal component of strongly reflected light. As a result, these glasses effectively reduce glare and offer enhanced eye protection.


Did you know

  • Rods and cones are photoreceptor cells found in the retina of our eyes and are responsible for our vision.
  • People who go fishing often wear Polaroid glasses to eliminate glare reflected off the surface of a lake or stream and see more clearly underwater.


Reflection Questions

  1. How do the Polaroid sunglasses you made reduce glare and protect your eyes from intense light?
  2. What are the benefits of polarised sunglasses for outdoor activities like fishing or driving?
  3. How can you apply the concept of polarisation to better understand other natural phenomena?


Safety Note

Always protect yourself from the sun when working outdoors. Look only at the sun with proper sunglasses that provide adequate UV protection. Use scissors and glue with care to avoid accidents.


Additional Activities

Experiment with different tinting options by adjusting the orientation and number of polarised film layers. Compare the intensity of light in each case and discuss the effects of polarization on light transmission.

Relevant information if you are facilitating

The provided sunglasses template ensures accuracy and facilitates easy assembly for participants. 

The Sun: Benefits and Risks

The sun plays several vital roles in our lives, such as maintaining a comfortable temperature, producing vitamin D, and contributing to improved mental health by combating issues like depression. However, knowing the potential dangers of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays is essential.

UV rays adversely affect our skin, leading to premature ageing and impacting even the deepest layers. Sun exposure can cause temporary or permanent damage, like sunburn and, in severe cases, skin cancer. Directly looking into the sun through a lens or mirror can impair vision or cause blindness. Excessive time spent in the sun without proper precautions may lead to sunstroke, also known as heat stroke, which can be a medical emergency.

Different skin types offer varying levels of protection against the sun. Tanned or dark skin provides slightly better protection than lighter skin. While sunscreen enhances the skin's self-protection, it is crucial to recognize that sunburn or skin cancer may still occur for all skin types depending on the Sun Protection Factor (SPF).

To prevent sunstroke, stay hydrated by drinking enough fluids, seek shade whenever possible, avoid being outdoors during the hottest hours (11 am to 3 pm), and wear a hat that provides shade for the face, neck, and ears.

As you engage in outdoor activities, remember to balance enjoying the sun's benefits and taking necessary precautions to safeguard your skin and overall well-being.

Time needed

40 minutes

Age range

  • 18 to 26

Useful links


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Time needed

40 minutes

Age range

  • 18 to 26

Useful links