Introduction to Light: An Illuminating Day!

Students were very busy today exploring the nature of LIGHT.  Light is a form of energy that travels in waves, and different types of light have characteristic wavelengths.   We see different colors because each color of light has a different wavelength. You may remember the mnemonic “ROY G BIV”, which helps remind people the order of colors in the rainbow. We also call those colors of light visible light because they are the wavelengths that humans can see. Other animals can see light outside of the range of visible light. Bees can see ultraviolet or UV light, while fish can see infared light!

We also talked about a special type of marine invertebrate, the mantis shrimp, that can see in colors we can’t even imagine! More information about the mantis shrimp is provided through the links below.

The students modeled a light wave using a rope, and learned that short wavelength, high frequency, and high energy all go together.  A series of activity stations helped reinforce their understanding of reflection and refraction, the differences between transparent, translucent, and opaque objects, and why and how we perceive different colors. We examined the way light interacts with materials and the terms absorption and transmission were introduced, with examples of materials illustrating each property.  The students were also very interested in our experiments dealing with the effects of refraction (the bending of light as it passes from one material to another).  While examining a glass that was partially filled with water, that also had a pencil in it, students noticed that from some angles the light reflected off of the surface of the water, while at other angles they were able to see through it. Students also noted that the pencil at the interface of the water and air, looked as if it was cut into two separate pieces.

More on the mantis shrimp’s eyes:

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