From bonfires to lasers

Supports National Curriculum, Key Stages 1D, 3F, 6F
Suitable for years 4,5 and 6.

The time for whole session is about 1 hour 15mins. This can be varied by taking shorter paths through the material e.g. by omitting activities in italics or omitting the section on colour. Choices will depend on the particular needs of the school.

Outline of content
Aims to:

  • Establish what the children already know, using demos and class experiments
  • Explain that excited atoms give out light in cold objects as well as hot objects
  • Understand that we see when light travels to our eyes
  • Understand that darkness is absence of light and we cannot see in true darkness
  • Find that we see most objects because they reflect light to our eyes
  • Find that mirrors change the direction in which light is travelling and that the angle matters
  • Show white light is made up of colours
  • Explain primary colours of light are red, blue and green
  • Investigate coloured materials in different colours of light
  • Demonstrate and discuss up-to-date applications by linking the children’s knowledge with their experience

Points to note:

Please read the notes about safety and agree the assessment with the teacher before the session!

Cross references:

  • The slides in the PowerPoint presentation (5.8 MB) are referenced in the table.
  • As the presentation may be running throughout the session some simple slides provide a suitable background, alternatively switch to a black screen.
  • Apparatus details are provided and are linked to the relevant sections.
  • Notes about safety are included with the activities.
  • Vocabulary: The presentation uses expressions included in the KS1 and 2 strategies.
  • NB: The phrase ‘excited atoms’ does not occur in these strategies.

Misconceptions – i.e. points that are often misunderstood

  • Only hot objects give out light.
  • We see by light leaving our eyes as shown in films about robots.
  • Blackness is a form of light rather than an absence of light.
  • We can see in the dark.

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