Investigation Sequence



Written by:

Angela Miller and Katie Noda                 Date


Focus Questions

o What is light?
o What are the properties of light?


Content: Earth, Physical, & Life

o Light has energy.
o Light has color.
o Light isn’t always transparent.
o Light can be bent.

Cross cutting concepts


Science Practice


Personal, Social, Technology, Nature of Science, History


Background information

o Light helps us see.
o The sun is a light source.additionalinfo

Activity Sequence

1. Colored Light
2. Bouncing Light
3. Bending Light
4. Water Lens
5. Visibility Factor
6. Prism Practice
7. Fire Starter

Activity Descriptions

Activity One: Prism Practice
Materials: prism, white paper, flashlight
1. Ask students what white light is. Ask students what colors come from flashlights.
2. Have students experiment with the prism, flashlight, and paper background.
3. See what colors they can make and what colors make white light.
4. Ask students to record results and share results.
5. Ask students what they can do to the prism to make the colors appear.
6. Have students make a drawing of white light with colors.
7. Ask students where else they might be able to find white light and colored light.

Activity Two: Bouncing Light
Materials: textbook, three mirrors, pencil, paper, flashlight, Activity Log
1. Ask students how light travels.
2. Students each lean one mirror against the textbook so it will stand up.
3. Students will write their names on a piece of paper and look at it in the mirror. Make observations about what the mirror did to each name.
4. Students will look in the mirror. Ask students to touch the right sides of their faces. Notice the side of your face the mirror image touched.
5. Stand the textbook up in the middle of your desk. Point the flashlight at the front side of the textbook and turn it on.
6. Without moving the textbook or the flashlight, cooperate with your partner and use the three mirrors to make the flashlight beam shine on the backside of the textbook. Try doing this many ways. Then, draw diagrams in your Activity log of the paths the light takes to get to the other side of the textbook. Show where the mirrors were.
7. Have the students draw the placement of the mirrors and the path the light took.
8. Ask the students what some ways could be used to make use of the bouncing light.
9. Ask the students what path the light took to get to their eyes.

Activity Three: Bending Light
Materials: coin, water, opaque cup, tape, Activity log, pencil
1. Ask the students how a magician can make a penny disappear and reappear.
2. Tape a coin to the bottom of the opaque cup as shown.
3. Stand back until the coin is just hidden from your sight.
4. Have a classmate slowly pour water into the cup.
5. Notice what happens and record results.
6. Ask the students to experiment with the angle at which they can see the coin with various amounts of water in the cup.
7. Illustrate their findings with a graphic representation.
8. Ask the students what other objects could produce the same results.

Activity Four: Water Lens
Materials: foam cup, plastic wrap, transparent tape, dropper, objects, newspaper, water, scissors
1. Ask the students to describe a magnifying glass and the purpose of one.
2. Have students carefully cut the half-inch rim from the foam cup.
3. Cut a circle an inch larger than the rim of the cup from the plastic wrap. Stretch it tightly over the rim. Tape it down and under the edge.
4. Place a few drops of water on top of each other in the center of the plastic wrap using a dropper. This is your water lens.
5. Now place objects and the newspaper under the water lens, and observe the objects.
6. Ask students why they suppose the objects and the newspaper looked they way they did under the water lens.
7. Ask students what happens why you add more or less water to the lens.
8. Explain why the water lens is similar to a magnifying glass.
9. Have the students draw a before and after picture. Ask the students to explain the pictures and how they came to their conclusions.
10. Ask the students where they could use their water lens.

Activity Five: Visibility Factor
Materials: various objects, wax paper, light source (flashlight), Activity log
1. Ask students why they can's see through their textbook.
2. Students receive a variety of objects and shine their flashlights on them.
3. Students record results of visibility factor of each object.
4. Teach explains opaque, transparent, and translucent.
5. Students refer back to notes and determine if objects are opaque, transparent, or translucent.
6. Have students draw pictures of light that shines through opaque, transparent, and translucent objects.
7. Ask students what other objects are opaque, transparent, or translucent.

Activity Six: Colored Light
Materials: Three flashlights, colored cellophane (red, blue, green), paper, pencil, white construction paper, tape, use stage light gel if possible
1. Ask students why they can see different colors.
2. Tape a piece of cellophane over the bulb end of each flashlight.
3. Turn out the lights. Cooperate with your partners to shine the three flashlights on the white piece of construction paper so all the light beams meet.
4. Experiment with the flashlights, moving the beams around so they cross over each other until you get white light.
5. Record results.
6. Students will shine the flashlights on the different-colored pieces of construction paper. Note the colors you see.
7. Record observations.
8. Ask students to tell what makes up white light.
9. Performance Assessments: red+blue=magenta, blue+green=cyan, red+green=yellow
10. Ask students where they might see red, green, and blue dots. (T.V.)

Activity Seven: Fire Starter
Materials: piece of lightweight paper, safety goggles, light source (sun), magnifying glass, a controlled environment
1. Ask students what happens when light 'touches' certain objects (books, clothes, lenses)
2. Discuss safety procedures and rules before beginning the activity. Students must carefully listen to any directions given by the instructor. Students must keep their hands to themselves, unless directed differently by the instructor. Students must not push, shove, or run at any given time. Students must wear their safety goggles at all times. Students must patiently wait in line while they are waiting to do the activity.
3. Teacher models the activity for the students.
4. Each students gets an opportunity to set the paper on fire, or at least burn it under the supervision of the instructor.
5. The students will have the opportunity to experiment with different angles of the magnifying glass and the sun in order to burn/set fire to the paper.
6. Ask the students if this activity could demonstrate properties of light. If so, which properties are they and how does this experiment demonstrate them.
7. Ask students to mention where this experiment could be used in real-life situations.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes