How Does Light Help Me See Things And Communicate With Others?  [v1.1]

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Synopsis

This first grade unit on light starts out with students exploring how many shapes they can see on different pieces of paper at various locations around their classroom when the lights are turned off.  They are surprised to find that some of the shapes are not visible in these conditions    This leads students to start wondering about other phenomena related to seeing in the dark, which in turn leads to new questions and design problems related to how they can make their room completely dark. 


WHAT STUDENTS INVESTIGATE 

Students investigate dozens of phenomena over the unit, and design multiple engineering solutions to help them uncover important pieces of the puzzle.  Each piece of the puzzle they figure out helps them incrementally develop a model to explain their anchoring phenomena and answer their original questions.  Here are just a few of these investigations...


What students figure out

By the end of the unit, students develop powerful ideas about the interaction of different materials with light, and its effects on what we see.  These ideas include:

  • Objects can be seen if light is available to illuminate them or if they give off their own light; very hot objects give off light.
  • Some materials allow light to pass through them, others allow only some light through and others block all the light and create a dark shadow on any surface beyond them, where the light cannot reach.
  • People can use light to communicate (send and receive information) over long distances.
  • A situation that people want to change or create can be approached as a problem to be solved through engineering.

DEVELOPMENT TEAM