Lighting Up Science

How are rainbows formed? How does water affect light? Why do shadows shift through the day? These are some of the questions Room 8 asked as we went on our journey of learning about the science of light.

Inquiry for Term 3 is called ‘Phunky Physics’ and the rationale is to predict, observe, and explain everyday examples of scientific phenomena.

Following are some of the experiments Room 8 undertook together to learn about the science of light.

Newton’s wheel

The physicist Sir Isaac Newton created a wheel showing that the rapid spinning of it causes the colours to “blend” into each other. This blending creates the illusion that they are actually white. Room 8 learned that light and the colour white are all of the colours of the rainbow in one. The colour white appears because our eyes cannot keep up with the separate colours moving at such a fast rate. The students had to create their circle out of cardboard and divide the shape into sixths. Then they had to colour in properly using the seven colours of a rainbow. After this, they made two holes for the string and tied knots. It took a few practises to make our wheels spin properly. Finally, the students completed a POE (predict, observe, explain) document to record their thinking before, during and after the experiment.

Darrius I learned how rainbows are formed. I now know that the Sun is always in your back when you see a rainbow. I will check everytime I see a rainbow now.

Riley S I learned about the discovery made by Newton that light is composed of seven colours. With the acronym ROYGBIV it is easy to remember them (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). I taught this to my friends.  

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What is refraction? - Learn it Prove it

Room 8 learned that light always tries to travel in a straight line. The Year 5 students did an experiment in which they had to put pencils in a glass of water. The students observed that viewed from the side, the pencils seem to bend where they enter the water. They learned that refraction is what occurs when light bends as it passes from air to water. The Year 5’s became experts and decided to share with the Year 6’s the knowledge they had gained.

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Zoe I learned that water makes light bend. This is called refraction. I am a Year 5 and I taught Isabella, Layne and Arion about refraction.

Layne I enjoyed learning about refraction from Zoe, Emily and Ava. I understood that refraction happens when light passes from air to water. I will do the experiment with my family at home. 

The path of the Sun

On a sunny day, the students of Room 8, in pairs, drew around their shadows with chalk on the ground. At hourly intervals, they repeated the step. They had to make sure they stood in the same place and face the same way each time. As the teacher I could see a general excitement from them watching their shadow not only move around but also shorten and lengthen as the Sun moved across the sky. Room 8 learned that due to the Earth's rotation, our view of the Sun changes throughout the day.

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David I observed that the shape of my shadow changed during the day. After researching I found out that the Sun’s position changes during the day. Next time I will try more than 4 times a day and see what happens.

Lennox M I predicted that my shadow would change and now I can explain why. It happens because the Earth moves around the Sun. On the next sunny day I will teach this to someone else.

During these experiments, the students asked questions, found evidence, explored simple models, and carried out appropriate investigations to develop simple explanations.

Keywords: Phunky Physics, light, Newton’s wheel, refraction, path of the Sun, POE (predict, observe, explain), Learn it Prove it

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