Unit 1: Exploring the Nature of Light Phenomena

Exploring Physical Phenomena: What happens when light from the Sun shines on the Earth?

Table of Content

I. Introduction

II. Identifying Student Resources

A. Learning about ways to foster science learning

Question 1.1 What have you learned about light at some time in your life, inside or outside of school, during an experience when you enjoyed the learning process?

1. An example of student work identifying resources for science learning

B. Documenting initial ideas about light phenomena

Question 1.2 What do you already know about how you see a basketball?

III. Developing Central Ideas Based on Evidence

A. Documenting your explorations

B. Exploring the nature of light phenomena

Question 1.3 What happens when light from a source shines on a screen?

Question 1.4 What happens when you place a barrier between a lamp and a screen?

Question 1.5 How does light seem to travel from a source to a screen?

Question 1.6 How many shadows can you see when looking at a light source, barrier and screen?

Question 1.7 What can you find out about light and shadows with a lamp, barrier, and screen?

1. Example of student work summarizing a series of explorations of light phenomena

Question 1.8 What happens when exploring light and shadows with a friend or family member

2. Examples of students’ explorations of light and shadows with friends and/or family members

IV. Using Central Ideas to Develop an Explanation for Intriguing Phenomena

A. Exploring pinhole phenomena

Question 1.9 What happens when light passes through a tiny pinhole and shines on a screen?

1. Example of student work about exploring pinhole phenomena

B. Explaining pinhole phenomena

Question 1.10 Why are you seeing what you are seeing when looking at a bright bulb through a pinhole camera in a dark room?

1. Student’s example explanation of pinhole phenomena

2. Some nuances in representing and explaining pinhole phenomena

C. Exploring a critical issue

Question 1.11 How does someone see this projection on the screen?

1. Example of student work about how one sees the projection on the screen

D. Exploring variables affecting pinhole phenomena

Question 1.12 What variables affect what one is seeing on the screen?

1. Example of student work about variables that affect pinhole phenomena

E. Exploring pinhole phenomena with friends and/or family members

Question 1.13 What happens when exploring pinhole phenomena with a friend or family member?

1. Examples of student explorations of pinhole phenomena with friends and/or family members

V. Developing Mathematical Representations of Pinhole Phenomena

A. Representing pinhole phenomena geometrically

Question 1.14 How can you describe pinhole phenomena geometrically?

1. Example of student work representing pinhole phenomena geometrically

2. Some nuances in representing pinhole phenomena geometrically

B. Representing pinhole phenomena algebraically

Question 1.15 How can you represent pinhole phenomena algebraically?

1. Example of student work representing pinhole phenomena algebraically

2. Nuances in representing pinhole phenomena algebraically

VI. Using Mathematical Representations to Estimate an Interesting Quantity

A. Using pinhole phenomena to estimate the diameter of the Sun

Question 1.16 How can you use pinhole phenomena to estimate the diameter of the Sun?

1. Example of student work in estimating the diameter of the Sun

2. Some nuances in using mathematical representations of pinhole phenomena

3. Using pinhole phenomena to estimate the Sun’s diameter with friends and/or family members

Question 1.17 What happens when estimating the diameter of the Sun with a friend or family member?

4. Some thoughts about the nature of science in this context

VII. Developing Additional Central Ideas Based on Evidence

A. Exploring reflection phenomena

Question 1.18 What happens when light shines upon a smooth surface?

Question 1.19 What happens when light shines on a rough surface?

1. Example of student work about reflection phenomena

2. Some nuances in explaining reflection phenomena

Question 1.20 How well do different materials reflect light?

3. Example of student work about the property of reflectivity

4. Some nuances about exploring the property of reflectivity

B. Exploring refraction phenomena

Question 1.21 What happens when light travels from one medium into another medium, such as from air into water or from water into air?

1. Example of student work about exploring refraction phenomena

2. Nuances about exploring refraction phenomena

Question 1.22 What happens when exploring refraction with friends or family members?

3. Exploring refraction phenomena with a friend and/or family member

4. Thoughts about the nature of science exemplified by these explorations

C. Exploring dispersion phenomena

Question 1.23 What happens when light from the Sun passes from air into a prism or water droplet?

1. Example of student work about exploring dispersion phenomena

2. Nuances about exploring dispersion phenomena

VIII. Using Additional Central Ideas about Light to Explain an Intriguing Phenomenon

Question 1.24 How are rainbows formed?

1. Example of student work explaining rainbows

2. Nuances in using centrall ideas about reflection, refraction, and dispersion to explain rainbows

IX. Historical and Current Perspectives on the Nature of Light

1. Historical interpretations of the spectrum of colors dispersed by a prism

X. Making Connections to Educational Policies

Question 1.25 What are the current standards for teaching science at various grade levels in your community?

A. Learning about the US Next Generation Science Standards: Science and engineering practices

1. Example of student work about relevant educational policies

B. Reflecting upon this exploration of light phenomena

C. Making connections to NGSS understandings about the nature of science

XI. Exploring Physical Phenomena: Summary of Equipment and Supplies for Unit 1

Figures

 

Tables

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Exploring Physical Phenomena by Emily Van Zee & Elizabeth Gire is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.