Sixth graders are focusing on an important aspect of how we see. How does light play a role in seeing color? Beyond classroom activities, students used two online simulations to continue to gather evidence for how they see color. The first simulation, Color and Vision, by pHet out of the University of Colorado, shows the effects of placing red, green, and blue in various levels over one another. The second one, Mix 'N Match out of the Exploratorium, shows the same thing but in a different, more quantitative way. Check out each of them! Just know you can't use Mix 'N Match in Chrome.
Adding Multiple Sources of Light
Adding a Red Filter
Combining Red, Blue, and Green Light
Can light do anything else besides scatter/reflect or transmit? Sixth graders looked for evidence as they helped design an experiment involving light and two types of water (clear and dyed). Using the light meter, students measured the amount of light that reflected and transmitted. What did they discover?
That even though the light emitted from the light bulb was the same going towards each water source (we controlled the distance from the light bulb and centered the beakers under the light), the amount of light transmitted through each beaker was different...vastly different!
So what does that mean? Light must do something else. Our conclusion--light can also be absorbed. And when it's absorbed, it can also make something happen, like increase the temperature. In both the clear and dyed water, students noticed an increase in temperature.
As a result of this experiment, our consensus model has been revised yet again...this time to include how light can reflect/scatter, transmit, or absorb. Great work 6th grade!
How can the path of light be blocked between an object and the eye and the object STILL be see?
Sixth graders investigated this question, determining that the path must be blocked with something that lets light through it. Using a wide variety of materials, students measured the amount of light that transmitted, or travels through each material. Students discovered that some materials not only transmit light, but they also reflect light, too. Great use of mathematics, sixth grade to gather evidence to support the development of your model for how we see things!
How can we take our consensus model for how we see things to explain how we see the sun during the day but not at night? How can we take that same model to explain why during certain times of the month, we see the moon in its entirety and then it seemingly disappears?
Sixth graders are applying their knowledge of our we see to other examples across other science disciplines. The light bulbs went off when one student connected our light model to the earth, moon and sun.
"Mrs. Brinza...the earth is like the eye, and the sun is the light source. When the moon is in a clear path, allowing light to reflect off of it, it's like the object we're trying to see. Because the moon moves, there's times where there's not a clear path for it, and therefore, we can't see it."
Our next steps...recognizing that not every object reflects light, like the earth and the moon. How can an object interact with light differently?
So when light scatters off a surface, we don't see a reflection and instead we just see whatever the surface is. But the conditions for why we see things still stand true. In order to see an object (whether that's a reflection or not), light still needs to reflect off a surface and back into our eyes.
We're taking this idea to venture into outer space. Why do we see the moon sometimes, and not others? How can we use this idea behind the conditions for why we see things to explain the changing appearance of the moon? This phenomena is quite easy to explain once you understand why we see things (and why we don't!) Check out the physical models we used to help explain the moon phases (and more specifically, why we see part of the moon when light from the sun scatters off its surface!)!!!
Do all surfaces reflect light?
YES...they need to reflect light in order for us to see them.
So what does that mean for why we see a reflection in some objects, and not others? Sixth graders completed a lab in which they compared the light meter readings from a mirror to that of a paper, keeping the flashlight position constant and changing the location of the light meter.
From our data, students quickly discovered the pattern from the data. Light that strikes a mirror at one angle bounces off at the same angle, and that's seen in the data from the pattern that emerged. The paper's surface wasn't as predictable, and therefore, doesn't have a pattern to generate a reflection. Awesome work, sixth graders!
This past week, sixth graders were asked to showcase what they knew about how we see things in a way that was most comfortable to them. Below is a sampling of some students' work, and boy, did they knock it out of the ballpark! Here's the actual assignment description, too:
1. Josh's Song: Models
2. Gio's Google Drawing
3.Tristan's Explanation Video
4. Aaron's Physical Model
7. Maddie's Play
8. Peyton's Video
6. Ella's Progression of the Models
5. Ryan's Play
6. Asier's Drawing Video
7. Alba's Google Drawing
8. Abby's Comic Strip
9. Alex's Video
10. Andrew's Progression from Model to Model
11. Sophia's Song
12. Tess' Comic Strip
13. Adam's Video
14. Zoe's Song
15. Kayla's Video
16. Brendan's Google Drawing
17. Maia's Video/Song
18. Matt's Stop-Motion Video
As students gather more and more evidence to show how we see things, they are refining their models to explain how we might see an object, or most recently, a shadow. They've been asked to showcase their understanding in a way that's most comfortable to them. Maybe that's in a drawing...or a physical object...or maybe in a play.
In order to show them what I was thinking...I made a video for them while they "performed." Enjoy!