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Light Travels in Straight Lines


Light Travels in Straight Lines

TEKS Objective

Demonstrate that light travels in a straight line until it strikes an object or travels from one medium to another and demonstrate that light can be reflected such as the use of mirrors or other shiny surfaces, and refracted such as the appearance of an object when observed through water.

Essential Understanding

The student knows that energy occurs in many forms and can be observed in cycles, patterns, and systems.

Science Background

Optics for Kids: Optical Research Associates (website) - It may be for kids, but this site makes the science of light interesting and easy for adults to understand too.

Optics for Kids
by Bruce Irving, Optical Solution Group,

Signature Lesson

Light Travels in a Straight Line: Hamline University (website) - Simple investigation in which students use a flashlight and three index cards to demonstrate and observe that light travels in a straight line.

Light Travels in a Straight Line
Hamline University,

Supporting Lessons

The Path of Light: Science Companion (PDF) – Shining a flashlight through a cloudy solution creates opportunities for students to observe how light travels. 

The Path of Light
Science Companion,

How Light Travels: Alabama Learning Exchange (website) - Students experiment to demonstrate and observe that light travels in a straight line and can be reflected using mirrors.

How Light Travels
Alabama Learning Exchange,

Elaboration Lessons and Extensions

How We See: Science Games for Kids (website) - Students discover how vision works as they experiment with lights & mirrors.

How We See
Science Games for Kids,

Light and Shadows: Learn NC (website) - Students discover that a pinhole viewer, like their eyes, is a light detector; that light travels in a straight line; and that images are produced by light that passes through a small hole (aperture).

Light and Shadows
Learn NC,

Assessment Ideas

Sample Question: Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (website) - Open response question that tests student understanding of how light interacts with different materials. Students can be scored from a rubric provided on the page.

Literature Connections

Experiments with Light and Mirrors. Gardner, R. (ISBN-13: 978-0766028586)

Day Light, Night Light: Where Light Comes From. Branley, Franklyn (ISBN-13: 978-0064451710)

Science With Light and Mirrors. Edom, H. (ISBN-13: 978-0746006962)

Rainbow and You. Krupp, Edwin (ISBN-13: 978-0688156015)

Related Science TEKS

(5.1A) Science Safety
The student is expected to demonstrate safe practices and the use of safety equipment as described in the Texas Safety Standards during classroom and outdoor investigations.

(5.1B) Recycling/Disposal of Science Materials
The student is expected to make informed choices in the conservation, disposal, and recycling of materials.

(5.2B) Ask Questions, Formulate a Hypothesis
The student is expected to ask well-defined questions, formulate testable hypotheses, and select and use appropriate equipment and technology.

(5.2C) Collect Data
The student is expected to collect information by detailed observations and accurate measuring.

(5.2D) Analyze Evidence and Explain
The student is expected to analyze and interpret information to construct reasonable explanations from direct (observable) and indirect (inferred) evidence.

(5.2F) Communicate Conclusions
The student is expected to communicate valid conclusions in both written and verbal forms.

(5.2G) Graphs, Tables, Charts
The student is expected to construct appropriate simple graphs, tables, maps, and charts using technology, including computers, to organize, examine, and evaluate information.

(5.4A) Tools for Collecting and Analyzing Information
The student is expected to collect, record, and analyze information using tools, including calculators, microscopes, cameras, computers, hand lenses, metric rulers, Celsius thermometers, prisms, mirrors, pan balances, triple beam balances, spring scales, graduated cylinders, beakers, hot plates, meter sticks, magnets, collecting nets, and notebooks; timing devices, including clocks and stopwatches; and materials to support observations of habitats or organisms such as terrariums and aquariums.

(5.4B) Safety Equipment
The student is expected to use safety equipment, including safety goggles and gloves.

(5.6A) Forms and Uses of Energy
The student is expected to explore the uses of energy, including mechanical, light, thermal, electrical, and sound energy.

Related Math TEKS

5.8A    The student is expected to sketch the results of translations, rotations, and reflections on a Quadrant I coordinate grid.

5.12B The student is expected to use experimental results to make predictions.

5.14B The student is expected to solve problems that incorporate understanding the problem, making a plan, carrying out the plan, and evaluating the solution for reasonableness.

5.15A The student is expected to explain and record observations using objects, words, pictures, numbers, and technology.

Additional Resources

The Science Explorer: Exploratorium (website) - Students may explore concepts of light through hands on investigations.

The Science Explorer

Optics - Light, Color and Their Uses Educator Guide: NASA (website) - The guide contains color and light activities using lenses, prisms and mirrors to create telescopes, periscopes, microscopes and kaleidoscopes. Other activities include finding focal length and understanding reflection, refraction and diffraction.

Optics - Light, Color and Their Uses Educator Guide

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