Gummy Bears, Worms, and Laser Pointers

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SWBAT explain that light can through objects of the same color.

Big Idea

Excite the class by helping them discover that light can actually pass through food that they love to eat.

Lesson Overivew

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

This lesson is designed to connect to 1-PS4-3, because the students are going learn about placing objects of different materials in the path of a beam of light. I decided to use the same material, gummy bears and worms, and allow the student to explore how the color of the material can determine if the light will pass through. So, we have studied many different material this point and now I want to explore how color can impact materials. This lesson deepens my students understanding of what kinds of materials light will pass through, and that the color of the material is a factor to consider.

The students plan and conduct an investigation to explore how light will pass through a gummy bear or gummy worm. But, they discover that a beam of green light will not pass through a red gummy bear or red gummy worm. So, the student plan their investigation and I give them laser pointers of different colors to determine what color light will pass through a gummy bear or gummy worm.

Lesson Overview

To make the lesson flow best I use frequent transitions and partners. Keeping the transitions and partner consistent in every lesson really helps my students persevere through really complex lessons.

We begin the lesson in the lounge and transition to the desks in the center of the room for the explore, explain, and elaborate section of the lesson. Then, I close the lesson back on the lounge in the evaluation section of the lesson.

The other strategy that really works for me is using heterogeneous ability group partners. The students have assigned seats beside each other throughout the lesson. They are supposed to help each other read, plan, investigate, or even write. These partners really support each other as they learn together.


10 minutes

The lesson begins in the lounge where I excite my class, assess their prior knowledge, and tell them the plan for the lesson. I excite the class by projecting the lesson image on the smart board. Then I say, "Look at the board and think about whether light will move through these." Then I give the class time to think. Now, my students are very familiar with gummy bears and gummy worms, and they do like candy. So, I am using things they like to help excite them about learning.

Next, I say, "Turn and tell your partner if you think light will pass through gummy bears or gummy worms." I am assessing their prior knowledge, and I expect that my students have never really considered this. So, I know they are going to be learning something new today. But, if I do get surprise and find that somebody does know a lot about light and gummy bears or worms them I let them share their knowledge. Students find it very meaningful to learn from their peers. When I know what they know then I can prepare to offer more explanations or less throughout the lesson.

Finally, I tell the students to plan, so they know what to expect. I say, "Today we are going to see if light will pass through gummy bears or gummy worms."


15 minutes

Now the class transitions to the center of the room where they are seated in groups of four. First they must fill out their science journal. Then, they are going to shine two laser pointer on a gummy bear and a gummy worm. Then they must record their observations. I hope they see that light moves through the same color, but does not move through a different color. 

I begin by displaying a model on the board, and instructing students to fill out their science journal. I walk around to make sure the students are working, so we are all ready to begin planning at about the same time.

Once everyone is done filling out their science journal, I say, "Think about how you might explore whether light will pass through a gummy worm or gummy bear. List the steps under the word plan." Now, I walk around and engage students that are stuck in conversation. I say, "How can you find out if the laser light will go through the gummy bear and worm?" After the student verbalizes their ideas I say, "Write that down." Here is a discussion between myself and a student talking out the plan.

Finally, I distribute the gummy bear and gummy worms. I also pass out the laser pointers. I next, show the class how I might conduct the experiment: design. Students often need to see how I would specifically place the gummy on the paper, and shine the light through the side of it. This lets me see if the light moves through the gummy.

Then I say, "Go ahead and carry out your experiment." I walk around and see what the students are doing. I find that I need to repeat procedures often, and I do that here: reminding students of procedures. There are a lot of details that go into getting the desired results, so many students may need support.

Then I add, "You can record your observations in your science journal. If you can use complete sentences that would be great." While they are working I walk around and see if I need to assist them in filling in their data. I see some students need help. So, I ask, "What do you want to write." As they tell me I write it down for them: model. This allows everyone to participate. I have included two examples of student work: exemplar student work and basic level student work.



10 minutes

As we move to the next section of the lesson I try to get my students to share their new knowledge. Really, I want them to learn to build upon the ideas of their peers and learn to work together as they acquire new information. First, I ask them to tell their partner their plan and what they discovered. Next, they tell the group across the table. Last, the students engage in a whole group discussion.

I begin by saying, "Tell your shoulder partner what you did." Then I listen. Next, I say, "Tell your partner what you discovered about the light." I hope to hear that the light of the same color will move through the gummy material, but light of a different color will not pass through. I walk around and listen to assess their understanding. If I see a group that is not participating I just go to them and ask, "What did you do?" Then I listen. I then ask, "What did you learn?" Sometimes students just need a little prompting.

Now, I want to engage the student to tell the group across the table what they did and what they discovered. I say, "Tell the group across the table what you did and what you learned." Then I walk around and listen. 

Finally, we engage in a whole group discussion. To avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable I ask, "Will a volunteer please share their plan." After they explain their plan I say, "What did you discover?" Then I listen, and ask, "Can anyone add to that? Did you find something similar or different?" I am basically engaging the class in discourse, so they learn to talk about their scientific knowledge.


10 minutes

Next it is time to allow the students to elaborate on their new knowledge. I know they are going to want to know why light passes through the similar color on the gummy bear and gummy worm. So, I pose the question and then read the students a text. After reading the text I allow them to answer the question using a complete sentence in their science journal.

First, I write the question on the board and allow the students to copy it down in their science journal. Then I read the text to the class twice. Now, I know there are some very complex vocabulary words in the text: translucent, opaque, and . I do not stop to explain these words, because I just want to help the students develop the concept. Adding explanations about these large vocabulary words might be overwhelming for my class in this lesson. I try to focus on learning what is happening instead of really expanding vocabulary.

I did find images of what actually happens with the explanation on this website. Before the second reading I remind them to be like a detective and look for the answer to our question. I restate the question and read the paragraph. Then I say, "Go ahead and record your answer. If you need to underline it or highlight it in the text that is fine." I have taught the students to highlight information they feel is important when they read.

Finally, I walk around and observe students recording their answer. Now, I have a few students that do need help. So, I track for them when I read, underline the answer for them, and I often write the answer for them with a highlighter. Then they copy the answer. This makes it where everyone can participate.


10 minutes

Now we transition to the lounge for the final section of the lesson. At this point I try to assess the students learning, engage them in evaluating their peers' work, and they need to share their answer they found in the previous section. 

As the student sit down I use a nice positive behavior strategy. We all chant,"Criss cross apple sauce, pockets on the floor, hands in your laps, talking no more." This strategy calls out what I want my students to do instead of concentrating on unwanted behavior. 

Now that the students are ready to listen I use a spreadsheet that I have hanging on the wall where we present. It is just a list of students names. I check off who has shared their work, so every child gets the same amount of opportunities to share. I allow two or three students read their answer to the class. After each child presents I ask, "Who can give them some feedback?" I expect their peers to give them feedback like, "I agree that the ."

Finally, I use a formative assess strategy to check the students understanding of what material light will pass through. I give each child a sticky note and I say, "Write on your sticky notes what material light will pass through. Once you have your answer place your sticky note on the Tweet Board." This lesson is about showing students that light will pass through material that is the same color.  As the students place their sticky note of the Tweet Board I comment on them. I may say, "I agree light will pass through material of the same color."