Light

Science Year 3/4 Shining the Light

The Rainbow Theatre have had a robbery. Some diamond earrings have been stolen during the dress rehearsal for the new play. There are 6 suspects to the crime and the police need your help to solve the mystery. There was a small audience for the rehearsal and they witnessed some strange events that led up to the robbery. Can you piece together the clues and solve the crime?

Session 1 In the dark

Objectives

You agree to help DC Harris to solve the curious case of the stolen diamond earrings from Moorgate Theatre. Today you will need to unravel the mysteries of darkness and light to learn how the thief managed to seize the jewels without being seen.

Science Objectives
i) Recognise that they need light in order to see things and that dark is the absence of light.

Working Scientifically

  1. Ask relevant questions and using different types of scientific enquiries to answer them.
  2. Making systematic and careful observations.
  3. Use results to draw simple conclusions, make predictions for new values, suggest improvements and raise further questions.

Other Curriculum Areas
Geography

  • Be competent in the geographical skills needed to interpret a range of sources of geographical information, including maps and diagrams.

You Will Need

Provided Resources

  • Police evidence, task and plenary PowerPoints
  • Crime information documents
  • Set items sheet
  • Investigator notes sheet
  • Teachers’ notes

Additional Resources

  • A card or plastic document wallet (‘Crime Information Folder’) for each group of 6 children containing 2 colour printouts of the stage plan, a set of suspect statements and the case summary document
  • A number of strong cardboard boxes (1 between 3 pupils) - these need to be prepared ahead (see teachers’ notes)
  • For each group of 3: a torch, a sharp pencil, scissors, a glue stick and access to magazines or catalogues containing pictures of furniture or interiors (or a colour copy of the set items sheet), plus 2 task sheets

Teaching and Activities

Teaching

  • Discover through active investigation that without light you cannot see.
  • Learn through investigation that light travels in straight lines.

Activities

  1. Actively investigate the nature of darkness, light and sight with a torch, a cardboard box and pencil holes.
  2. Use their findings to draw conclusions on how light travels and our dependence on light to see.
  3. Consider how these findings explain what the witnesses at the robbery saw (Yr4).

Investigation - pattern seeking, problem solving
The lights went out because of a power cut. Someone shone a torch from the balcony and the beam lit up some items around the stage, later some of these items were moved. How did this happen? Investigate how light is needed to see things (using a torch and cardboard box).
Explain scientifically how items could be moved across the stage in the torchlight without anyone noticing.
Year 3 - Work with prompts.
Year 4 - Work independently.

Vocabulary
Light, beam, darkness, illuminate, straight lines, investigate

Session 2 Lights and reflectors

Objectives

Witnesses report that some items on the stage showed up more easily than others in the dark and some items glittered in the torchlight. It’s your job to investigate what they saw and why. What clues will this give you to help solve the crime?

Science Objectives
i) Recognise that they need light in order to see things and that dark is the absence of light.

ii) Notice that light is reflected from surfaces.

Working Scientifically

  1. Gather, record, classify and present data in a variety of ways to help answer questions.
  2. Identify differences, similarities or changes related to simple scientific ideas and processes.

You Will Need

Provided Resources

  • Teachers’ notes,
  • 2 PowerPoints,
  • 2 task sheets and accompanying resources.
  • Investigators’ notes sheets
  • Session 2 witness statements

Additional Resources

  • For the cave: Some large blackout curtains / a quantity of blackout material (enough to exclude light under 2-3 tables), strong duct tape, safety pins, a torch with a focused beam, a selection of reflective materials, e.g. high visibility clothing, sparkly material, a mirror, aluminium foil, a glass vase with 3 white lilies in it and a few non-reflective different coloured items e.g. a grey scarf, a black jumper, a green hat, a navy bag, a red cushion, a wooden bowl.
  • Flipchart and marker pens
  • ‘Crime Information Folders’ from last session
  • Cardboard boxes from last session
  • Felt tip pens, crayons, glue sticks and sharp pencils to make holes
  • Scissors and black insulation tape (possibly - to cover over holes)
  • Sparkly material for collage of Helen’s dress
  • Black paper (1 sheet per group doing Task 1)

Teaching and Activities

Teaching

  • Predict and then investigate which colours show up best and least in the dark.
  • Investigate the effect of shining a torch on various objects including reflective materials.

Activities

  1. Investigate which colours show up best in the dark and which are hard to see.
  2. Discover why shiny and reflective materials appear to glitter or shine in torchlight.

Investigation - classifying and identifying
When the low level house lights came on, the witnesses saw some coloured cushions on the sofa but others had gone, some items on the stage were very bright in the torchlight. Investigate which colours show up best in low light and which materials reflect back a torch beam.
Year 3 - Sort and classify different colours and materials as good and bad reflectors of light.
Year 4 - Rank order colours and materials according to their reflective properties.

Vocabulary
Light source, reflector, reflect, predict, investigate, fair test, reflective materials

Session 3 Mirrors and reflections

Objectives

Some strange pieces of torn paper have been found in the waste paper bin. Are they a clue? Piece them back together and attempt to read the mysterious mirror code writing. Investigate mirrors and reflections to find out what it means for the case.

Science Objectives
i) Notice that light is reflected from surfaces.

ii) Recognise that light from the sun can be dangerous and that there are ways to protect their eyes.

Working Scientifically

  1. Gather, record, classify and present data in a variety of ways to help answer questions.
  2. Report on findings from enquiries, including oral and written explanations, displays or presentations of results and conclusions.

Other Curriculum Areas
Maths

  • Recognise angles as a property of shape or a description of a turn (Yr3).
  • Identify lines of symmetry in 2-D shapes presented in different orientations (Yr4).

You Will Need

Provided Resources

  • Last Team Standing PowerPoint
  • Session 3 police evidence PowerPoint
  • Investigators’ notes sheets
  • 3 task sheets
  • Clue sheet (for Yr 4 task)
  • Teachers’ notes

Additional Resources

  • Crime information folders from last session, containing previous contents
  • A number of good quality safe mirrors for investigation tasks (A5 size is ideal) - aim for 1 between 2 children
  • A wall mirror and a 4m length of string
  • Masking tape
  • A selection of reflective objects particularly shiny spoons of different sizes, shiny Christmas baubles (not glass ones), shiny cylinders, e.g. stainless steel or silver cups/mugs/teapots/utensils etc
  • Sticky notes and scissors

Teaching and Activities

Teaching

  • Learn that light bouncing off a mirror gives a clear reflection.
  • Discover that a reflection is a back-to-front image.

Activities

  1. Investigate how light reflects off mirrors and other shiny surfaces to give a clear reflection (Yr3).
  2. Investigate how writing is reflected back to front and how back to front writing looks normal when viewed through a mirror (Yr4).
  3. Experiment with angles of reflection using strings attached to a mirror (Yr3&4).

Investigation - pattern seeking, problem solving
Later there was total darkness again and the witnesses saw a torch beam for a few seconds. Some said it was shining towards the back of the stage and others in their eyes. Some people saw a piece of paper with a strange message. Discover the torch was shining into the mirror.
Year 3 - Investigate mirrors and reflections. Explain the different witness statements
Year 4 - Investigate mirror writing. Decode the strange message. Explain why only some people saw it

Vocabulary
Reflect, mirror, reflection, image, angle, line of reflection, concave, convex, symmetrical

Session 4 In the shadows

Objectives

Witnesses to the crime saw strange shadows appear on the plain white curtain that was lowered after the robbery. It is your job to investigate how these shadows were made and what clues they could bring to the case.

Science Objectives
i) Recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by an opaque object.

Working Scientifically

  1. Identify differences, similarities or changes related to simple scientific ideas and processes.
  2. Use straightforward scientific evidence to answer questions or to support their findings.

You Will Need

Provided Resources

  • Notes on the teacher-led task
  • 2 task sheets (one for Yr3 and one for Yr4) - provide one sheet per group
  • Session 4 police evidence PowerPoint presentation
  • New witness statement sheet for the crime information folders
  • A photo resource of a swirly glass paperweight
  • Teachers’ notes

Additional Resources

  • A room with good blackout facilities
  • Several screens/sections of light coloured wall, or large sheets of white card
  • A collection of opaque, transparent and translucent objects including a pair of glasses with clear glass lenses and opaque frames, and a swirly glass paperweight or similar glass object
  • 8-10 bright torches
  • Masking tape
  • Several cardboard box theatres with a paper screen attached – one between 3 in Yr4 group (v. easy to make see teachers’ notes)
  • 2 small play people and a few building blocks (e.g. Lego™) per Yr4 group
  • A pretend earring per Yr3 group e.g. a bead threaded onto a paperclip
  • An averaged sized cardboard box and a rectangle of white tissue paper for each theatre
  • A craft knife and PVA glue

Teaching and Activities

Teaching

  • Investigate how objects made from different materials cast shadows.
  • Understand how a shadow changes depending on the object’s orientation.

Activities

  1. Discover why opaque, transparent and translucent objects cast different shadows (Yr3&4).
  2. Investigate how the orientation of an object affects the shadow by making hand shadows (Yr3).
  3. Investigate how shadows can be seen from the other side of a translucent screen (Yr4).

Investigation - problem solving
Sue the stage manager put a lantern on the table and lowered a plain white curtain at the front of the stage. Maggie the director told everyone to take a break whilst they waited for the lights to come back on. Some shadows appeared on the curtain. Some witnesses took photos. What/who made the shadows? Are they important clues? Use cardboard shadow theatres to investigate shadows.
Year 3 - Explore how shadows are made and explore hand puppet shapes.
Year 4 - Explore how shadows are made and play a guessing game.
Both – Attempt to explain the shadows that were seen.

Vocabulary
Transparent, translucent, opaque, shadow, screen, light source, block

Session 5 Big shadow little shadow

Objectives

Witnesses reported seeing the suspects’ shadows getting larger and smaller. How could this be? It is your job to investigate. What does this mean for the case?

Science Objectives
i) Recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by an opaque object.

ii) Find patterns in the way that the size of shadows change,

Working Scientifically

  1. Set up simple practical enquiries and comparative and fair tests.
  2. Make systematic and careful observations and, where appropriate, take accurate measurements using standard units.
  3. Record findings using simple scientific language, drawings, labelled diagrams, keys, bar charts and tables.

Other Curriculum Areas
Maths

  • Interpret and present data using bar charts, pictograms and tables (Yr3).
  • Interpret and present discrete and continuous data using appropriate graphical methods, including bar charts and time graphs (Yr4).

You Will Need

Provided Resources

  • Police evidence PowerPoint
  • Plenary PowerPoint
  • 2 task sheets
  • Differentiated graph sheets
  • Teachers’ notes

Additional Resources

  • Blackout facilities
  • 8-10 bright torches – enough for 2 per investigation team
  • An A3 sheet of white card for each torch
  • The cardboard theatres from last session with tissue paper screens
  • A selection of small toy vehicles and other toy figures to cast shadows
  • Rulers
  • Talcum powder

Teaching and Activities

Teaching

  • Actively investigate how shadows change as the light source is moved.
  • Take measurements and look for patterns in data to answer scientific questions.

Activities

  1. Freely explore how the distance of the light source affects the size of a shadow (Yr3&4).
  2. Look for patterns and try to answer questions (Yr3&4).
  3. Take accurate measurements of shadows whilst controlling the distance of the light source (Yr3&4).
  4. Observe a demonstration of light travelling in straight lines to explain the shadow data (Yr3&4).

Investigation - fair testing
The lantern went out and someone with a torch came on. Strange shadows get larger and smaller. Luckily the witnesses took photos. Can you explain what these scary shadows mean? Which suspects were close to the screen? Who was at the back of the stage?
Year 3 - Conduct a fair test to answer a given question with a scaffolded task.
Year 4 - Devise their own fair test to discover how the size of a shadow changes when the light source is moved.

Vocabulary
Light source, shadow, measure, distance, plot, graph, data, fair test, results

Session 6 Solving the case!

Objectives

A strange pair of rainbows appeared on the white curtain. What could have made them? Research how rainbows are formed and discover these rainbows are a crucial piece of evidence. Put all the evidence together. Can you finally solve the case?

Science Objectives
i) Recognise that light from the sun can be dangerous and that there are ways to protect their eyes (and a review of all other Light objectives).

Working Scientifically

  1. Use straightforward scientific evidence to answer questions or to support findings.

You Will Need

Provided Resources

  • Police evidence and Plenary PowerPoints
  • Quiz and answers sheets
  • 3 activity sheets
  • Task and ‘Solve the Crime’ sheet
  • Photo of the pocket contents of suspects
  • Teachers’ notes

Additional Resources

  • A few plastic bowls containing water and a little washing up liquid
  • Plenty of drinking straws
  • Magnifying lenses and bright torches (at least 10 or each)
  • Some old CDs
  • Some hanging prisms or other Perspex prisms
  • Some sheets of folded A3 white card
  • Access to the Internet and some non-fiction books on light
  • A colour printout of each of the 3 rainbow activity sheets (it might be a good idea to laminate the bubble one)
  • An A3 copy of the sheet called ‘Solving the Crime’ per investigation team

Weblinks
These 2 websites give age appropriate information for the children’s own research into rainbows:
Rainbows research from www.planet-science.com
Rainbows research from www.YouTube.com

Teaching and Activities

Teaching

  • Research a variety of secondary sources to learn how rainbows are formed.
  • Investigate the occurrence of rainbows in a practical way using bubbles, CDs and prisms.

Activities

  1. Use secondary sources to research how rainbows are formed.
  2. Actively investigate the occurrence rainbows using bubbles, CDs and prisms.
  3. Take part in a quiz to assess knowledge on light.
  4. Review all the evidence to solve the crime.

Investigation
There is one last clue to solve. A strange pair of rainbows appeared on the curtain just before the empty jewellery box was found. Discover that white light is made of different coloured light. What could have caused the rainbows? Where was it? Which suspects were involved? Solve the mystery.
Year 3 /Year 4 - Working together in mixed ability groups on a carousel of activities. Have higher expectations with regard to year 4s on the level of explanation.

Vocabulary
Rainbow, white light, spectrum, prism, refraction, dispersion