Light and color go together like the chicken and the egg. Without one, you couldn’t have another! Read on for ideas for teaching this pair, as well as the spectacular Roy G Biv.
Ms. Sneed Prepares Her Light and Color Station
Once again, our favorite fourth grade teacher sat at the side table with her teaching partner. “Let’s continue planning our light energy unit. We’ve already worked on four science stations:
Our last center focuses on light and color.”
“Okay, I’ll pull up the lab sheet,” Mr. Frank replied.
Gathering the Materials
As usual, Ms. Sneed headed toward the science cupboard. Soon, she came back with a bag.
“Keeping these materials from year really saves time,” she said.
As she spoke, she dumped the contents of the bag on the table. “There. Everything kids need to explore light and color. For the stations, they need a prism, a CD, bubbles, and a flashlight. To make white light, students also need two more flashlights, colored cellophane sheets, and rubber bands. For the chromatography experiment, they’ll use plastic cups and coffee filters, as well as pencils, tape, water, and washable markers.”
Prism or CD – Making a Rainbow (and Seeing Roy G Biv)
Mr. Frank looked at the lab sheet for the station. “In the first light and color activity,” Mr. Frank said, “kids simply shine a flashlight on a prism or CD.”
He grabbed the flashlight and shined it on the compact disk. “Aha! Roy G Biv.”
“You know, the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.”
“How did I not know that?” Ms. Sneed laughed. “The kids will love it!”
Next, Mr. Frank picked up the prism. After turning it this way and then that, he finally made a rainbow appear on Ms. Sneed’s shirt.
“Very funny,” she said with a sly smile. “I can never get the prism to work. Fortunately, we have the CD as a back-up.”
Bubbles – More Light and Color
“The second activity uses bubbles,” said Mr. Frank. Without missing a beat, he picked up the container, unscrewed the lid, and blew a few. “Hey, I can see why kids love these light and color stations.”
“Yeah,” his teaching partner said with a giggle, “even grown men enjoy bubble.”
A small smile tugged at the side of his mouth. “Um-hm. Look at those colors on the side of that bubble. Roy G Biv again. Hopefully, our students will see the relationship between refraction and rainbows.”
Colored Flashlights or Spinner – Making White Light
“Remember,” said Ms. Sneed, “we have some additional projects on light and color. We can do these on the days that kids are reviewing for the test.”
Mr. Frank scrolled through the light unit until he got to the right page. “The first set of activities helps kids see that white is the presence of all light. First, the teacher or students cover three flashlights with primary colors of cellophane – red, blue, and yellow. After securing the sheets with rubber bands, we shine them on white paper. In the middle, white should appear.”
Slowly, Ms. Sneed nodded her head. “Yes, I love this activity. However, it requires a bit of inquiry. Last year, I had to double up the blue in order to get it to work. I’ll have to think about whether to do it as a demonstration or lab.”
“The other alternative,” said Mr. Frank, “is to alternate primary colors of construction paper on a CD. Then you set it on a marble and spin. Once it gets going, kids can see patches of white light.”
Chromatography and Pigment – Separating Colors
“Do you want to add the chromatography experiment to our light and color sequence?” asked Ms. Sneed.
On cue, Mr. Frank scrolled to the correct lab pages. “I love this lab, but I think a few of my students may get confused. After all, we told them that all colors of light make white. Now we’re splitting black pigment into Roy G Biv.”
“I can see what you mean. Maybe we should give the test first and then do the experiment. It also teaches science practices. And you know our kids need more of that!”
Enjoy Teaching Light
Mr. Frank sat back in her chair. “This set of light activities has so many options. This light and color station and four more let kids explore concepts with simple activities. Additionally, kids can make white light, experiment with chromatography, and explore shadows.”
Ms. Sneed nodded and smiled. “This is the kind of stuff that really makes me enjoy teaching.”