Reflection Obstacle Course

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Students will be able to use their knowledge of reflection to create investigations that will cause light rays to follow a determined path.

Big Idea

Understanding that light travels in a straight path and must reflect off of something in order to adjust its path is the big idea here. In a fun obstacle course style experiment, students will learn that the reflection angles are equal.


5 minutes

When the students arrive at the community area, I will remind them that we have learned that light travels in a straight path. Knowing this can help us direct light energy.  Our guiding question will be, "How can we make one beam of light travel around corners to a place that is not directly across from the source?"

I will have the students turn to their elbow partners and discuss their thinking. We will then share out a few responses for the good of the whole and move into the mini lesson.

Mini Lesson

10 minutes

In order to engage the students in the lesson and show them how to use all of the supplies on our trays, I ask them to move into a fishbowl arrangement. Next, I will share the tray of materials, which will include:

  • a flashlight
  • 4 small mirrors
  • clay or mirror stands
  • 5 index cards

I will ask a student to sit with me and we will work as partners to explore making our light hit a target that is not directly in line with the source.  Here, I will be sure to model some of the WRONG things to do, like put the target card really far away, or too close.  I will also model doing all of the work or not doing any of the work while my partner tries to get my attention.

This is an important step in creating a community of learners that can figure out how to be engaged together on a task. 

Active Engagement

25 minutes

As the students develop their investigations and test their thinking, I will circulate and question what they think (hypothesis) will happen and why.  I will also question why they set up their "course" the way they did, listening for terms like straight path, reflection, angle, and predict. 

This group was simply working on what it meant to be in a team during a high interest activity. They were also getting acquainted with reflected light and how to determine which was the original ray and which was the reflected beam.


Sharing and Closing

15 minutes

To close the lesson, I will stop all of the work and have everyone create their best investigation from today's work.  I will then have half of the teams "tour" to the other groups to watch the experiments and ask questions. After about 7 minutes, the groups will switch, sharing their obstacle courses.