Follow the Line

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SWBAT redirect a wave of light using flashlights and mirrors.

Big Idea

Students will use a website to gain an understanding of how to redirect light. They will then use their exploration to redirect a beam of light using mirrors.

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

Materials:  laptops for each student (or iPads), flashlights, mirrors, clay, index cards.

The students will work in teams of three to redirect a beam of light by reflecting off of a mirror and onto a card. Students need to be able to plan and conduct an investigation that will allow them to determine the effect of placing a reflective object into the path of a beam of light.

Our district has not moved toward implementation of the NGSS yet.  However, sound waves is a concept that is in our current curriculum.  I am pushing my students toward the full NGSS expectations of both light and sound waves.  Since it is above what the district requires, I am can push the students to go beyond the expectations. The NGSS expects students to:

1-PS4-2. Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that objects in darkness can be seen only when illuminated.
1-PS4-3. Plan and conduct investigations to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light. 
1-PS4-4. Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.


10 minutes

I start the lesson by discussing the word reflection.  I remind them of the definition that we had come up with earlier in the unit and review the meaning.  

"I want to refresh our memory about the word reflect.  Today you will figure out how to redirect light using the concept of reflection. Before we begin, I want to take a look at a beam of light and how it travels (in a straight line).  I will turn off all of the classroom lights and make the room as dark as I can.  Then I will turn on a flashlight.  I want you to notice in which direction does the light go.  What happens if I turn the flashlight in a different direction?"

I now want you to each grab a laptop.  You will go to the address

Your job will be to use the mirror on the sight to illuminate a variety of objects."

I want the students to work on their own in order to develop their own ideas and understandings.  As students are working, I can circulate and help those who might not understand it or are having trouble with the activity.  


25 minutes

I gather the students around the supply table to go over the next part of the lesson.  I want to go over the task and show them the materials to make sure that everyone is clear on this part to of the lesson.  

"You will work with your science partners during this part of the lesson.  You can get two mirrors, a ball of clay, and index card, and a flashlight.  Your job will be to use the light to shine it on the index card. However, you can not have the flashlight point directly at the card.  You must use the mirror(s) to reflect the light onto the card."

I have included a video of a team explaining their design.  


10 minutes

I check in on the groups and when most have created model where light is being reflected in another direction and say:

"I want you to set up your science notebooks for today's lesson.  Once you have created a model that reflects the light onto the index card, I want you to create a diagram of what you did and how it worked."  

I want to separate this part from the construction part of the task.  This way their focus can be on their writing and explanation and not construction.  

"Once you are done, I want you to walk around and see who other groups placed their light and mirror(s) to allow for their card to be illuminated."

It is important that students are given the opportunity to see other solutions to the task.  This opportunity allows them to compare solutions to there own, and/or allows them to see who they might have changed something in their own thinking.  

"Once you are done looking, I would like you to come over to the carpet.  We will finish this part of  the lesson with a quick discussion."


2 minutes

I end the lesson with a video.  I want to reinforce the concept about reflection.  The concept of reflection is not part of the NGSS requirements but I feel like it is a challenge the the class can handle and gain an understanding of through a hands on opportunity.  

I ask the students to turn to a partner and discuss what they learned from the video.  I end the discussion with a whole group share out.  


5 minutes

I have the students grade their notebook entry by using the Science Journal Scoring Rubric 2.  The expectation is that they are able to create a diagram of their model and using appropriate science vocabulary, are able to explain what happened.  

This review will allow me to determine if the students truly understood the concept of the lesson.