Experimenting With Light

The Journey To Discovery > Experimenting With Light

Your students will learn how the speed of light changes when it moves through different materials.

Teacher Preparation

Arrange the following materials for this task:

  • A large glass jar
  • Some cooking oil
  • Some water
  • A ruler

Print Wondrous Light Cards. Cut out each card.

Print Bending Light Diagram for each student.

Teacher Method

Immerse students

Provide your students with a card from 'Wondrous Light Cards'. Prompt each student to find another student with a matching card.

Prompt each student to record their wondrous fact in their 'Wondrous Fact Workbook’ (available with SUBSCRIPTION). Prompt each student to record a question that their fact answers and three other plausible answers in their workbook.

Engage students

Explain to your students that light moves at different speeds through different materials. Explain to your students that you are going to conduct an experiment to test how light changes speed.

Fill a glass jar with water and place a ruler vertically in the jar. Move the ruler onto an angle. Prompt your students to share what they can see.

Examples

The part of the ruler in the water appears to be at a steeper angle that the part of the rule above the water. Explain content

Explain to your students that when the light hits the water it slows down and makes it appear like the ruler is bending.

Facilitate discussion

Display the container of cooking oil for your students. Prompt your students to consider if light travels slower or quicker through cooking oil than it does through water. Prompt your students to share what they think they will see when you add oil to the glass jar.

Example

The light will travel slower through cooking oil and the ruler will appear at a steeper angle than the water.

Engage students

Add some cooking oil to the jar filled with water. Prompt your students to share what they can see.

Example

The part of the ruler in the oil appears to be at a steeper angle that the part of the rule in the water.

Facilitate activity

Provide each student with 'Bending Light Diagram'. Prompt each student to draw how the ruler appears to them through different liquids. Prompt each student to describe what is happening to the light as it travels through the different materials.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Australian Curriculum

  • Processing and analysing data and information
    • Construct and use a range of representations, including tables and graphs, to represent and describe observations, patterns or relationships in data using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS107, ACSIS090)
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light from a source forms shadows and can be absorbed, reflected and refracted (ACSSU080)

Victorian Curriculum

  • Recording and processing
    • Construct and use a range of representations, including tables and graphs, to record, represent and describe observations, patterns or relationships in data (VCSIS085)
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light from a source forms shadows and can be absorbed, reflected and refracted (VCSSU080)

New South Wales Education Authority

  • Working Scientifically
    • Working individually and collaboratively in conducting a range of appropriate investigation methods, including fair tests, to answer questions or solve problems.
    • With guidance, posing questions to clarify practical problems or inform a scientific investigation.
    • Using equipment and materials safely, identifying potential risks.
    • Using a variety of ways to honestly and accurately communicate ideas, explanations and processes, including multi-modal texts, labelled diagrams, as well as written and oral factual texts as appropriate.
    • Suggesting improvements to the methods used to investigate a question or solve a problem.
    • Electing and using techniques to investigate the suitability of material.

Western Australian Curriculum

  • Processing and analysing data and information
    • Construct and use a range of representations, including tables and graphs, to represent and describe observations, patterns or relationships in data using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS090)
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light from a source forms shadows and can be absorbed, reflected and refracted (ACSSU080)
  • Nature and development of science
    • Science involves testing predictions by gathering data and using evidence to develop explanations of events and phenomena and reflects historical and cultural contributions (ACSHE081)