Nature of Light

SciGuide

SciGuides are a collection of thematically aligned lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources for teachers to use with their students centered on standards-aligned science concepts.

What is light? Our experience with light is that which we can see. Our eyes contain two different types of photoreceptors, rods and cones. Rods are extremely sensitive to light but can’t distinguish color. Cones which are less sensitive than rods, respond to light of different wavelengths, producing color vision. Instruction for understanding light begins with an understanding of mechanical waves and the properties of those waves. However, light also has particle-like properties, and exhibits a wave-particle duality.

This SciGuide breaks down the complexity of teaching the nature of light into manageable chunks arranged in a logical sequence for learning. You may choose specific Themes or Keywords appropriate to your students and teaching objectives. Individual Themes and Keywords identify misconceptions and conceptual difficulties. Many web resources provide simulations and data to enhance understanding and engage students in inquiry.

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Reviews (11)
  • on Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:09 AM

SciGuides are really fantastic. When it's time to teach about light, I can be confident knowing I'll have the Nature of Light SciGuide to go to for lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources. I'll be able to create outstanding lessons in a shorter amount of time since many resources are easily accessible in this SciGuide.

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Fri May 10, 2013 10:27 AM

The “Sites for Teachers” and “Sites for Student” resource in the Nature of Light SciGuide is a comprehensive resource for teachers who want to address key concepts and real life examples associated with wave properties and the electromagnetic spectrum. Suitable for grades 5-12, this SciGuide goes through everything about light: the wave vs. particle debate, characteristic of light, along with how human eyes perceive color. Each thematic section provides lesson plans, media, and access to NSTA”s vast collection of resources. This SciGuide puts emphasis on different forms of media (animations, videos, websites, self directed quizzes) to help Teachers plan and get ideas on pedagogical approaches to teaching about waves, along with providing students varied sites to help better their understanding of wave properties and the everyday uses of electromagnetic waves. The SciGuide also discusses the key scientists who helped to discover light’s properties and includes ideas on lab activities that will help students make sense of how light is absorbed and reflected, and why we perceive color in the way we do.

Joanna Kobayashi
Joanna Kobayashi

  • on Tue May 07, 2013 7:45 PM

Overall this sciguide is very useful in developing a lesson plan for all grade levels. The sciguide offers lesson plans for the middle school and high school levels with activities to help students understand the material through hands on methods. The lesson plans give a wide range of activity that helps teachers to create a lesson plan based on the student’s needs. This is one of the most valuable parts of the sciguide. Teachers have a lot of knowledge on the content they are teaching but sometimes have trouble in creating a lesson plan to teach their students. Being able to look at lesson plans that others have created give teachers a starting point to develop their own lessons. The sciguide also offers sample work based on the lesson plans. The sample work gives questions and answers to each of the content. I think that this is one of the most valuable resources from the sciguide. A lot of times, teachers do not know what type of work to give out to the students as homework or work to review the content learned. The sample work allows teachers to pick and choose questions or work that they can give out and also use the sample work as a model. Some of the activities that I was able to use in my class were the sample work from the light and electromagnetic radiation section. The worksheet provided a lot of questions that I used for the students learning check, bell work and exit passes. The questions covered a lot of the sections that I went through with my students.

Sung Yi  (Honolulu, HI)
Sung Yi (Honolulu, HI)

  • on Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:37 PM

This SciGuide is pretty nifty because it gives guidance on how to make something so abstract and invisible as light more real and relevant to our students. The EM spectrum is always a bit challenging for middle school students. They can't see it; they can't touch it; they don't think they experience it; and, they have a very hard time understanding that there's a link between magnets and electricity and that they BOTH release energy in the form of waves (called the EM spectrum) and that these waves all have different properties based on their wavelength and frequency. All of this is very abstract and usually involves math and scary greek letters. Then, ask them to understand that light behaves like a wave AND a particle and you've lost them! This SciGuide does all of that. It starts with explaining how light behaves as a wave and a particle, then goes into its characteristics and color, and then finally deals with the full EM spectrum. By using demonstrations, worksheets, and labs, this SciGuides sheds more light on the nature of light for our students.

Angelo Laskowsky  (wahiawa, hawaii)
Angelo Laskowsky (wahiawa, hawaii)

  • on Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:52 AM

A great resource for lesson planning - making difficult concepts understandable by creating connections to student experiences. I struggled with creating a lesson on the nature of light within my Life Science Class however, the sciguide gave me creative ways in which to teach concepts such as the Electromagnetic Spectrum and properties of light; low cost and easy to execute!

Rochelle Tamiya
Rochelle Tamiya

  • on Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:22 PM

I admit - Physics is not a strength for me in knowledge content - but NSTA's Sci Guide, "Nature of Light" has been a lifesaver. I was thrilled locate this resource, and the small investment for access was well worth the price for the detailed lessons, web links, student work samples and dozens of links. When I taught this unit for the first time - I had had the greatest time watching my students become engaged and inquiry based learners. Worth every dime!

Alyce Dalzell  (Peyton, CO)
Alyce Dalzell (Peyton, CO)

  • on Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:59 AM

I don' t know if I missed it in the Energy SciGuide, but this one stated, "This SciGuide breaks down the complexity of teaching the nature of light into manageable chunks arranged in a logical sequence for learning" (National Science Teachers Association, 2010). This SciGuide and I believe all of the SciGuides do make it "manageable" for teachers like myself. This SciGuide (and probably all the other SciGuides) would be the first place to go if you needed ideas on how to teach a class about light. It gives you themes to pick from, which allows you to pick the ones that align with state standards. What I appreciate the most is that when I click on a particular theme, it brings me to a page that is further organized in categories of what you need. For example, there are links on the right hand side that will take you to the subsequent resources. (links: Lesson Plan, Vignette (Case Study), Audio Clip, Sample of Student Work.

Jacqueline N  (, Hawaii)
Jacqueline N (, Hawaii)

  • on Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:59 AM

I don' t know if I missed it in the Energy SciGuide, but this one stated, "This SciGuide breaks down the complexity of teaching the nature of light into manageable chunks arranged in a logical sequence for learning" (National Science Teachers Association, 2010). This SciGuide and I believe all of the SciGuides do make it "manageable" for teachers like myself. This SciGuide (and probably all the other SciGuides) would be the first place to go if you needed ideas on how to teach a class about light. It gives you themes to pick from, which allows you to pick the ones that align with state standards. What I appreciate the most is that when I click on a particular theme, it brings me to a page that is further organized in categories of what you need. For example, there are links on the right hand side that will take you to the subsequent resources. (links: Lesson Plan, Vignette (Case Study), Audio Clip, Sample of Student Work.

Jacqueline Nuha  (, Hawaii)
Jacqueline Nuha (, Hawaii)

  • on Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:36 PM

As with most SciGuides with alot of digging you can find an appropriate lesson that will work for your class. Because of budget constraints like most schools it can be tough to find a hands on lesson that is engaging as well as affordable. A helpful lesson I found was under the Theme: Color of light and contained the keywords: Wavelength and light. The Lab was titled linking learning to labs. It focused mainly on a cycle of learning including reflective writing. The lab the author included was a lab with bubbles and the resulting colors formed by different wavelengths. It was a relatively "cheap" lab to conduct and I found it a great way to reinforce their lesson on wavelengths.

Travis Toriano
Travis Toriano

  • on Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:31 PM

A great scipack/sciguide that is filled with information that is made easy to understand what could be complicated, complex concepts. The sciguide offers additional and supplemental information for more specific portions of the scipack. Teaching light in a life science class was made relevant, interesting and engaging for my students as they investigate the flow of matter (sunlight) while learning about rainbows and the Electromagnetic Spectrum!

Rochelle Tamiya
Rochelle Tamiya

  • on Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:37 AM

The Nature of Light sciguide is developed into four themes: Light Particles and Energy, Characteristics of Light, Color of Light and Light and Electromagnetic Radiation. There are several available resources including on-line interactivities, hands-on activities, assessments, data, inquiry materials and graphics. I was able to use diagrams and lesson ideas from both the Reflection of Light and Refraction to develop lessons to accommodate my student’s needs and availability of materials. The resources saved me a lot of time in researching information and activities to assist the content being taught. I was able to find several ideas in one content area, which helped me, develop a lesson that was appropriate for my students.

Helen
Helen


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