Pin Hole Box

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SWBAT explain the path light travels in a pin hole box.

Big Idea

Allow students to create a pin box to discover that light travels in a straight line and the object is inverted on the wax paper.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

This lesson is designed to allow students to follow a given plan investigating the path of light, and then discover that light travels in a straight line. They also discover that objects can be seen inverted through the pin hole box, because of the way the light is entering the container through the narrow hole. I give the students the plan in a paper copy, and then I show them how I would do each step designing the box. I actually precut the materials and poked the hole in the end to save time. Then I leave my model on the table for the students to explore if they need help as they design their pin hole box. I model how to look through the box, and how to make sure you are in good lighting when you are looking. Then I ask questions to help the students arrive at the conclusion that light travels in a straight line, and objects appear inverted in the wax paper of the pin hole box.

This is the second lesson in a unit about light, so the students do not have a great deal of knowledge. So, I may need to offer more support and help them plan their experiment. The students prior knowledge and their understanding from the previous lesson really determine how much extra support students need.

Lesson Overview

One thing that really helps my lessons run smoothy is keeping things consistent. I use the same transitions and collaborative partners in every lesson. Transitions allow the students to move frequently, and partners allow them to support each other. 

Beginning with the transitions, every lesson starts in the lounge or carpet so I can activate my students thinking and motivate the class. Next, we move to the desks in the middle of the room for the explore, explain, and elaborate sections of the lesson. Last, we close the lesson back in the lounge where the students present the information they discovered in the lesson.

The other big strategy I like is using collaborative partners. These are heterogeneous ability group partners, and the students do have assigned seats by their partner. They help each other during the lesson, and share their understanding during partner talk time. The collaborative partners are also allowed to help each other at any other time in the lesson. At times students lose their place while reading or need help spelling, and their partner is there to help them. Using partners creates an environment in the classroom where students help each other, and I am more of a facilitator.


10 minutes

So, the lesson begins in the lounge where I excite the class, remind them of what we have been learning, and tell them the plan for the lesson. To excite them and get their energy up I project the lesson image on the Smart Board and ask them to think about experiments they might do with this box to determine the path of light. 

Then I ask, "Please turn and tell your partner what we have learned about when we can see objects. Yesterday, we did an experiment and learned something. Tell your partner what we learned." I am connecting today's lesson to a previous lesson to teach my students to make connections. But, I am also assessing their prior knowledge. If they remember that objects can only be seen when illuminated then I know this lesson is going to flow more smoothly. If few students remember then I need to provide extra support to help the students develop their understanding throughout the lesson. There may be a few students that know a lot about light and I can make them feel special by allowing them to do the explanations. 

Then I tell the class the plan for the lesson, so they know what my expectations are going to be. I say, "Today you are going to carry out an experiment to see one path light travels. Then you will create your pin hole box, conduct your experiment, and last you will explain the path the light is traveling."


15 minutes

This is the time we transition to the desks located in the center of the room in groups of four. The students record the topic for today and the date in their science journal, and they carry out the experiment. We use this journal in our culminating activity to do some type of project for the students to apply their understanding of light. 

First, I put a model of the way the science journal should be labeled on the Smart Board, because many student need models. Using models allows everyone to participate. Here is an image of my materials: pin hole container and object.

Then I add, "Now, I want you to record what you see as I show you how you are going to design your pin hole box." I construct the box using these instructions. Then I give each child a copy of the instructions. I say, "Now you have seen me create the box, and look through the hole. But, you don't know what I saw. So, create your box, and go into the sunlight. Look through the wax paper and record what you see. You can illustrate what you see or just write notes in your science journal. I created a sentence starter for you if you want to write a complete sentence."

Now is the time for each child to get a box, a pin, and carry out their experiment. It is okay if their experiment does not work perfectly, because they can learn or examine their partner or another child's box. Students learn as much from things that go wrong as they do from the things that go perfectly.





10 minutes

Now it is time for the students to share their discovery, and this is when their understanding really develops. The students tell their partner, then the group across the table, and last we have a whole group discussion. At any point during discussion the students are encouraged to change, add to, or redo their observations. Basically, I am teaching the students to share their ideas, give their peers ideas, and build upon the ideas of their peers. 

First, I say, "Share your discovery and what you learned with your shoulder partner." Then I walk around and listen: talking to partner. If they are not talking I say, "Read your sentence to your partner and tell them what you discovered."  Then I listen. Next, I say, "So, you may add to or redo your experiment." I watch, wait, and go help anyone in need. If many students need help I prompt their partner to help them by saying, "Partners tell your partner what you did and what happened."

The next thing is to get the groups to share across the table. I say, "Share your discovery with the group opposite you at your table." Then I walk around and listen.  Then I listen. Next, I say, "So, you may add to of change your plan now. You may even try it another way."

Finally, we begin a whole group discussion. This is a great time for students to learn different ways the experiment and plan that will work. It is also more meaningful, because they work with their peers to develop their plan. So, I say, "Will a volunteer share their discovery?" Then we all listen. Last, I ask, "Will somebody else add to that or share what they discovered?"


10 minutes

Now, I want to elaborate on what the students discovered. So, I pose the question to the class. I project the model on the smart board. Then I read the question: What path does light travel in the pin hole box?

The students first write the question down in their science journal. Then I show the class the image from this text, and I explain the path of light. I give each child a copy, read it, and explain it to them. In addition, I project it on the Smart Board, so I can reference it as I talk. After my explanation the students illustrate the light and what they saw in their experiment.

Basically, I say, "Light enters the can and travels in a straight line. We see that by looking at the light in the can. We can see path, because we know where the light is entering the can. It is mainly coming in through the hole. Notice the object is upside down. I want you to illustrate this, but be sure to illustrate the image you were looking at in your pin hole box."

I walk around and make sure they understand that light travels in a straight line. They also need to see the object appears inverted in the box. If they are stuck, I stop by their desk and begin a conversation. I say, "Do you need me to reread the text? What are you thinking?" Then I listen and help the student arrive at the answer. This is a model I am going to show students that struggle, so everyone can participate. Those who struggle will copy this: model after I explain it. This is an example of proficient work.


10 minutes

The end of the lesson has arrived and I need to wrap things up. I like to allow several students to explain their illustration, give their peers feedback, and assess the students knowledge. So, I begin by using a speadsheet with all the students names on it, and I just check off each child as they present. Now, usually everyone wants to share, but I only allow three students to go during the lesson. To accommodate the others I allow them to share during recess, snack, and sometimes they share to a kindergarten class.

The first thing is to get the students seated and listening. I use positive behavior support to get the class still. We all chant, "Criss cross apple sauce, pockets on the floor, hands in our laps, talking no more." I am focusing on the behavior I want. The students have to listen if they are going to give their peers feedback. So, I add, "Our eyes are on the speaker and we are thinking about what they are saying. Be prepared to give them feedback." Then I say, "Ok, it is ____'s turn to share. Please explain your experiment and what you discovered." After the presentation I say, "Raise your hand if you want to give them some feedback. What did you agree with or disagree with? Can you add to what they said?"  Then I ask the next person to stand in front of the group and share. We follow the same procedures during each child's presentation.

Last, I assess the students using a spreadsheet that is very simple. I only try to asses three things. I assess that they know objects cannot be seen in complete darkness, student speak and listen at appropriate times with effectiveness, and each child must give adequate peer feedback. Personal stories do not count as peer feedback. I want to hear things like, "I agree that the object is upside down, and I saw an apple upside down." So, I have the names on the left, and the columns at the top. I place a check in areas where the students show mastery. Then I can group students to work on skills they need help with.