Nature of Light: Light as Waves

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Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the second of four Science Objects in the Nature of Light SciPack. It provides conceptual and real world understanding of the idea that waves (including sound and seismic waves, waves on water, and light waves) have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter. Wave behavior can be described in terms of how fast the disturbance propagates, and of the distance between successive crests or troughs of the wave (the wavelength). Accelerating electric charges produce electromagnetic waves which can be organized into a spectrum of varying wavelengths (and frequencies): radio waves, microwaves, radiant heat or infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays. These wavelengths vary from radio waves (the longest) to gamma rays (the shortest). Human eyes only respond to a narrow range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation—what we call visible light. In empty space, electromagnetic waves of all wavelengths move at the same speed—the "speed of light."

  • Elementary
  • Middle

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Reviews (9)
  • on Tue Sep 02, 2014 7:34 AM

I really enjoy Science Objects. In 1-3 hours, the Nature of Light: Light as Waves Science Object will help me re-learn, refresh, or learn for the first time some critical science concepts I will have to know to obtain my Science Educator credentials. I appreciate that I can complete them at my own pace, and that, if used as park of a SciPack, I have access to a content expert to go to for help. The NSTA Learning Center Science Objects are very beneficial!

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

  • on Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:57 AM

This resource is a wonderful section of information on light waves. It breaks it down into many topics with detailed information for students to read, watch and understand. I will use this resource in the fall in my classroom and recommend it to others in the sixth grade science world

Rosemary Steinman
Rosemary Steinman

  • on Wed May 01, 2013 10:23 AM

this article is a really good review on light. I would like to use this right before I teach a unit on light so that I can review the information I will be teaching.

Morgan Burks  (warrensburg, MO)
Morgan Burks (warrensburg, MO)

  • on Tue Jan 10, 2012 7:11 PM

This Science Object brought clarity to the topic of waves, using light waves as the primary basis for understanding. The discussion of wave phenomena and how they interact with each other was quite enlightening. The use of light waves for various practical applications such as heating food in a microwave or killing cancerous cells would be useful when explaining the conceptual framework of this topic to my students. NSTA Resources ROCK!

Duane Little  (Washington, DC)
Duane Little (Washington, DC)

  • on Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:05 AM

This Science Guide made me think about all of the things I have learned about light and sound waves and apply it in a different way. It is fun learning some of this content from a pedagogical standpoint rather than a college major standpoint. This one really made me think!

Brandy Stewart
Brandy Stewart

  • on Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:16 PM

This Science Object is an excellent way to either review or start your content knowledge with in a Unit on Light. This is the second part of a four part series. This second part dealt with familiarizing the teacher with the electromagnetic spectrum. The first Science Object dealt with how light travels. I recommend this Object to Middle School and High School teachers.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

  • on Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:50 PM

I love the science objectives. They allow you to work at your own pace while learning important information. This object hit many facts about different types of waves and how they interact with each other. This is an important subject for me to understand if I desire to teach fourth grade, as it aligns with the fourth-grade NGSS standards. This NSTA resource was a hit with me!

Katelynn Kraner
Katelynn Kraner

  • on Wed Feb 03, 2016 3:45 PM

The only reason I did not give five stars is because of the questions that accompany the first interactive screen- waves from opposite directions crossing. The answers to the second and third questions were confusing even after watching the waves many times. I'm not sure if I need further clarification or if the questions need further clarification.

Kristy  (Little Rock, AR)
Kristy (Little Rock, AR)

  • on Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:11 PM

No matter how you slice it....this topic just requires a lot of memorization.

Robin Willig  (Rye Brook, NY)
Robin Willig (Rye Brook, NY)

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