Showing posts with label light. Show all posts
Showing posts with label light. Show all posts
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!

As I was writing this Next Gen Light Unit, I knew I wanted to include some light experiments I've done in the classroom, but I also wanted to include some STEM based experiments and the Pinhole Box Challenge was born!  This morning, I tried it out with my 5 year old and he LOVED it!  Here's an up close look at this engaging challenge!

During the first week of our light unit, we are learning about why we need light.  So for the pinhole box challenge, I placed 1 small bulldozer toy in the box. (In the classroom, I would set up one box for each table group with something different in each box.)  I used a pen to poke a hole in the side of our box.

Then, I told Cooper the problem.

"The UPS truck man needs to find out what is in this box, but we are not allowed to open it! Can you peek inside and see what is in there?"

He quickly figured out that we couldn't see anything, and when I asked him why not, he said, "It's too dark!"

So, I asked, "What can we do about that so that we can see what is in the box without opening it?"

First, he tried poking another hole on the same side.

...and shining a flashlight through one hole and looking though the same hole...and then looking through the second hole...

He poked another hole or two on that side before deciding to poke one on the top.

"Mommy, shine that light on the side and I'll look in at the top!"

But still, no good visual on the toy...So he laid the flashlight on the top hole and peeked through the side.

No luck!  Finally, he tried poking a hole on the other side and peeking through!  "I see it, Momma!! It's my bulldozer!"

Then, he drew a picture of the bulldozer and labeled it!

That was enough for my 5 year old, but in the classroom, we would rotate through each pinhole box after the groups figured out how to see the object in the box.  Then, we would observe what was in the box and draw and label our observations for each of the boxes.  This was the perfect way to discover why we need light and how light helps us!

Find this STEM project separately or with much more in this Next Gen Light Unit!

I'm not gonna lie, when those Next Gen Science Standards came out and had light waves and such for first grade, my stomach turned in knots a little. Ok, a lot

Because physics is not my strong suit.  Like, for reals.

And I may have let out a sigh of relief that I'm on a short term Mommy break from the classroom.

But then, I dug my heals in and came across some great books on light, made some connections to things I was already teaching in first grade, and this Light unit, along with this list of awesome trade books, was born!
{This post contains affiliate links which means that I get a tiny bit of pocket change from each purchase to feed my chocolate addiction! :)}

All of my integrated units and Next Gen Science Units come with big ideas and essential questions.  I just don't know how to teach without guiding truths and questions--it keeps me on track, focused on the bigger picture and helps me make literacy and math connections more easily!  Here are the essential questions for this unit and the books I used as literacy connections!

Week 1: Why Do We Need Light?

During this first week, we are reading about what light is, light sources and charting our learning.  And all of that research leads us to our Pinhole Box STEM connection (read about that HERE) to learn why we need light.  Here are the books we use for this first week... Click on the covers to

Week 2: How Do Materials Affect Light?

This second week is jam packed full of academic vocabulary like opaque, translucent, refract, reflect, and more!  And the best and most engaging way to learn new concepts is through science labs.  You'll find a ton of labs in week 2 that I'll blog about later!  But I love how much literacy can be pulled in even when science labs are the primary focus.  Click the covers to find the books!

Week 3: How Can We Use Light?

The first part of week 3, we learn some real life applications for using light.  We study fireflies (and make a firefly which I've blogged about before!), lighthouses, as well as make our own connections for how we use light!  There are great fictional connections this week as well!

Week 3: What Color Is Light?

Yes, I know this is the second week 3... That's just because there are 2 essential questions in the same week!

The second half of week 3, we learn about the science of color with my favorite man Bill Nye and then do one of my favorite science experiments I've blogged about before: Catching Rainbows!

Make sure you follow my blog because I'll be blogging about some of our favorite light STEM challenges and science labs in the next couple of weeks!

That moment when your teaching week is going along grand and life throws you a curve ball and almost nothing happens that you planned to happen by the end of the week?  ...yep, that's where I am...

Last Friday, we did our first of 3 *planned* weather experiments from our weather unit over the next week.  We caught rainbows!

I have done this with my preschool Sunday School babies at church for years when we learn about Noah's Ark.  Those sweet 3 and 4 year olds get so stinkin' excited about catching the rainbow on the floor with their paper! So, I knew my firsties would love it too.  And I was right!

We filled our glasses with water and used a flashlight to shine a rainbow on our recording sheets.  The angle is a little difficult and not for the faint of heart, but my little sweeties learned perseverance and each successfully "caught" a rainbow on their paper with the help of their group. And my intern. And me... {It's times like these that I love having the extra hands of a full-time intern!}

Have you ever noticed that everything is better more engaging with the lights off?

After we caught rainbows, we inferred the cause of the rainbow together and made connections to what the flashlight and glass of water might represent in nature {sun and rain}.  I purposefully didn't read anything on rainbows.  I wanted to do the experiment first so they could "discover" some of the information on their own. And, man, that was powerful!

Then, we read a book from our school library on rainbows.  It's called Rainbows and Me.  I cannot seem to find it anywhere on the web though... We skipped around and only read about half of the book because some of the information goes into things we weren't focused on, but it's a great read for first graders!  We charted our new learning...

Students wrote their own informative writing paragraphs about rainbows on their cloud and made a rainbow too! {this little project came about as one of those after school, "what could we do to spice up rainbow writing?" casual planning sessions with my teammates.  You know, those ones you don't plan to have? I love my creative teammates! They are seriously my second family!!}

We needed something to cheer us up during these cold frigid winter days, so we filled our hallway with rainbows!  You can't walk down our hallway frowning now....they are just so happy looking!!

Man, we were on a R*O*L*L with these science experiments and integrating them into our writing.

Next up in the plans was this "making a cloud" experiment while learning about the water cycle this week.
And then I had two all day meetings that snuck up on me, so my intern had to do it without me...{insert sad face here.}

I saved this "Cloud in a Jar" experiment for Friday because my intern wanted to see it and they have University classes on Thursdays. {{EDIT: read about this experiment from the next year HERE}}
And then Thursday night at 7:50 we took my 15 month old to the doctor and found out he has croup.  So I stayed home Friday.  My poor firsties are missing this one altogether because it was not one I left for my intern to do since it is an "all hands on deck" experiment...{wink}  The next two weeks are my intern's solo weeks. So, this poor little experiment is going to have to be shelved until next year.  Boo!

I traded Friday's planned science experiment in for this...

Some times messed up plans, foregoing experiments, and surprise meetings are frustrating.  But sometimes they're okay.  When my week ends with day long snuggles with my normally busy 15 month old baby boy, everything else can wait.  I hate that I didn't get through all of our plans and didn't get to capture what I know would have been some awesome learning moments for my firsties.  But....some things are just more important...
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