Discovering The Science Behind the Kaleidoscope

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Students connect how light energy works within a kaleidoscope.

Big Idea

Today, students discover the scientific phenomena behind the kaleidoscope they constructed the day before.

Picking Up Where We Left Off

10 minutes

Today was the day that we would explore and come to understand the scientific phenomena behind our beautiful kaleidoscopes! I was excited to facilitate this lesson! As students entered the classroom today, I asked them to take a minute and get out their Kaleidoscope Klews Chart they had started from the day before. I asked them to get out their science notebooks and look at notes from their study about reflection and refraction. I had them enter those two words in the "S" section of their KLEWS Chart. I told them to look into their Kaleidoscopes and think about what they had learned about light, how the eye works, and the words they had just written down.

I coached them to formulate more questions and think about anything  they want to know as they added them to the "W" section of their chart by modeling a few questions like " How does light work inside of this thing so I can see it? Why do the beads look different inside of the scope versus when I just take the cap off and look at it?"  I reiterated that asking questions is what drives scientists to discover and understand the phenomena they are studying. I roved the classroom and found interesting things entered in the sections of their charts. Some students wondered about shape and color of beads and how that affects the kaleidoscope. Many also wondered what the paper in the lid has to do with it ? These simple questions laid foundations in their minds for thinking scientifically about the kaleidoscope as they transitioned from the "playing with a toy" stage to a whole different level. This is what NGSS is about!

Time To Play a Little

5 minutes

The energy was picking up again and I realized that I needed to let them play and share for a little bit. So, I told them that I would set the timer for 5 minutes and they could share their kaleidscope with someone who hadn't seen theirs yet. They were talking about whose was the "coolest." One group talked about how some people had placed beads very precisely and it was obvious when they looked inside the scope. After the timer went off, I reeled them back in and focused them back in on their KLEWS Chart. It was time for me to rove and start to interview them about what they were thinking. 

Connecting Them To Their Knowledge

25 minutes

It was time for me to poke out the understanding of science, get them to connect it to what have learned about how light is responsible for our ability to see objects. I began asking questions like,  "What do you think the phenomena is?" This question helped them fill out the "S" section of their KLEWS chart, which seems to always be the most difficult. The chart is flexible because they can fill it in in any order and add to it as they are learning. Writing about the evidence they see supports the connection to understanding the science vocabulary and phenomena. It is important that they are detailed here.  

I asked them how they thought reflection works in there? This question helps them understand the connection to the phenomena. Explaining their drawings to me was key in their process in thinking about how it all works and helped me assess levels of understanding. Through the drawings on their KLEWS Chart, they see their thoughts. I required them to draw. No one was excluded from that process. The conversations I coached, finally got them to connect what they had learned in the past. Understanding that even a toy can be a scientific phenomena opened up concepts that everything around us probably connects to science in some way, driving home the point that learning about science is a key part of understanding many things in our lives. I wanted to close the lesson with a group discussion as they put finishing touches on their drawings and detailed charts.

Closing With Aha Moments

10 minutes

These "Aha!" moments are the most powerful moments that drive all student understanding. This is the time when any questions that have not been answered usually get answered and misconceptions have a chance to be cleared up. They don't even realize I am assessing them and do not feel uncomfortable taking risks in sharing. Some students shared their understanding of how they discovered that the kaleidoscope bounces light inside so we can see the colors. The question about the reason we used wax paper was answered as she explained looking through it peeling away a little to look through the bare cap. She understood how refraction was key in helping to magnify and change the image of the beads to be something more beautiful. What more can a teacher ask for in a science lesson? This rich dialogue and engaging discussion is what it should be about as we come to fully understand light energy!