Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Nature of Light (3rd and 4th Graders)

This term the 3rd and 4th graders have been continuing with exploratory experiments that are meant to help them understand the nature and behavior of light. In one activity, the students attempted to sort Skittles by color using white light, or single colors of red, blue, or green. ( Ask your student what happens when you are limited to one illuminating color). This exercise helped to demonstrate how color is perceived by our eyes and our minds.
We delved deeper into our understanding of light, color, and perception, with another activity studying colored shadows.  We observed that shadows are usually black, but that color shadows can be generated when multiple colored light sources are used.  The students systematically observed the results of subtracting different light sources, and did a wonderful job of deducing why the shadows changed color or changed position, based on what they already understand about light.  (Ask your student what they observed). In honor of Halloween, we made our own ghosts using reflection. This method, called "Pepper's Ghost", is the same method used by Disney to project the ghosts in the Haunted House! As we finish up our investigation of light, we have been comparing what we know about how light behaves as a wave with the behavior of light that makes it seem like a particle.  The students observed the angles of reflection that light follows when it bounces off of a mirror, and compared that with a super-ball bouncing off of the floor.  Soon we will be changing gears and begin studying electricity.  Ultimately, we plan to merge our themes of light and electricity and construct our own lightbulbs.  Stay tuned!

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