You and Your Students!
Vicki Cobb, Education World Science Editor
Use optics to decorate your classroom.
Physical Science, Light
Props RequiredThis an assignment that you give your students. Students will use found objects in the home for this assignment.
Setting the Scene (Background)
The holiday season is approaching. To help you and your students get into the spirit, you decorate your classroom, right? Why not use the occasion to learn about the properties of light? The result will give your room a unique and festive look.
Give your students a week to do this assignment. Then, when they bring in the results, let students present their work to the class during a “show and tell” period.
Light is a form of energy; it has properties distinct from other forms of energy.
Share the following properties of light with your students. As you introduce each concept/property, have students describe objects they know that exhibit those properties. Note: Some objects exhibit more than one of these properties.
After introducing students to the properties of light above, you might give them an overnight assignment: Have them bring in from home examples of objects that exhibit different properties of light. Give students time to share the objects they bring from home and tell about the properties they exhibit.
Introduce the activity: Challenge students to create a holiday decoration. They should use found materials in the home to create a decoration that exhibits at least one of the properties of light. Encourage them to be creative; you'll be very pleasantly surprised at the creations they will pull together! Give them a week or two to complete their decoration projects. Then set aside time for students to "show and tell" the decorations they made. Have them describe the properties of light that their decorations exhibit. Finally, create a display of students' holiday "properties of light" decorations. Have them hang from or place alongside their decorations a sign that states the light property(s) exhibited in their decorations.
Note: The results of this activity will be best if you give as little specific direction as possible. Let students' creativity carry the assignment. If you feel you need to do more to set up the activity, you might bring in several store-bought holiday decorations (for example, a shiny ornament, a fiber-optic wreath, a silver menorah, a crystal bell ornament) and ask students to identify the properties of light that each decoration exhibits.
You might want to get the art teacher involved in this project. You’ll be amazed at what the kids will produce -- and your classroom will be worthy of a tour!
See more experiments with sound in Bangs and Twangs: Science Fun with Sound by Vicki Cobb, illustrated by Steve Haefele, The Millbrook Press, 2000.