Light & Materials Science Experiments

I love good science experiments that leave my first graders SHOCKED!  And these two oldies, but goodies never disappoint!

Light Exploration Stations

During the second week of our Next Gen Light Unit, we learn how different materials affect light.  We spend one day exploring a range of materials with light sources to describe how the materials affect the light.  My first graders are super engaged with almost anything that is set up as stations they get to rotate through!  Add some high level scientific exploration and it's a win for everyone!

I set up 8 light stations around the room.  In my light unit, I have given to response sheet options with the light stations I use or a blank template for you to use your own materials.

At each station, students use the material listed and a light source to explore what happens with the light when the material interacts with it.  I give them some guiding questions to explore like...

(1) How does the light change?
(2) What makes the light change or stay the same?
(3) What would happen to the light if I move it closer/farther?

Then they get about 2 minutes to explore!  That doesn't sound very long, but it really is once you are in the middle of it.  And you don't want to give too much time or else kids get off task... :)

Transparent, Translucent and Opaque Experiment

I love this experiment because it's super easy to do, it requires very little materials, it's super fast, and most importantly, it's super effective!

First, we use our recording sheet to write our prediction about what how much light we will see when we shine the light through the cling wrap.  Then we test our predictions.  This can easily be done whole group or in small groups as long as you can trust your groups not to test before they predict.  And I would definitely recommend doing it step by step together if you choose to do it as small groups! #learnfrommymistakes

Then, we repeat our predictions and testing for wax paper.  And with each material, we write a conclusion together where I tell give them the words transparent, translucent and opaque as describing words for materials.


Finally, we test the cardstock!

If you have older kids or just want to extend this experiment, have kids brainstorm with their table groups other materials that could be opaque, transparent or translucent as you test and write conclusions about each material.  This helps guide your kids to that application level of higher order thinking skills.  Cooper and I did that with our opaque material so you can see what the conclusions look like both ways!


Find these experiments and more in this Next Gen Light Unit!


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