Building Blocks of Science®: A New Generation Light and Sound Waves |

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Building Blocks of Science®: A New Generation Light and Sound Waves

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Grade 1. In this unit, students investigate to discover that light and sound travel in waves. Students collect evidence of how light travels and how it interacts with different materials as they manipulate light and experiment with several materials. Students create different sounds and examine how they are produced, then trace the wave from the point of origin to the ear. Light and Sound Waves Unit Kit includes a Teacher's Guide and enough supplies and apparatus for a class of 24 students.

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Grade 1. During the Light and Sound Waves unit, students explore the physical science concepts of light and sound, and investigate to find that both phenomena travel in waves. Students use flashlights to collect evidence of how light travels and how it interacts with different materials as they manipulate the path of light and experiment with several materials. Students also investigate sound and how it travels. By creating different sounds and examining how the sound is produced, students trace the wave from the point at which it is created to the ear. The Light and Sound Waves Unit Kit (item #514201) includes a Teacher's Guide (item #514202) and enough supplies and apparatus for a class of up to 24 students.

The Light and Sound Waves unit addresses the following standards:
Next Generation Science Standards
Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS4.A: Wave Properties
  • PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation
  • PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect

Engineering Practices

  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Common Core State Standards
Language Arts


American Association for the Advancement of Science Benchmarks
The Nature of Science—The Scientific World View

  • When a science investigation is done the way it was done before, we expect to get a very similar result.
  • When a science investigation is done again in a different place, we expect to get a very similar result.
The Nature of Science—Scientific Inquiry
  • People can often learn about things around them by just observing those things carefully, but sometimes they can learn more by doing something to the things and noting what happens.
  • Tools such as thermometers, magnifiers, rulers, or balances often give more information about things than can be obtained by just observing things unaided.
  • Describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people to compare their observations with those of others.
  • When people give different descriptions of the same thing, it is usually a good idea to make some fresh observations instead of just arguing about who is right.
The Nature of Science—The Scientific Enterprise
  • Everybody can do science and invent things and ideas.
  • In doing science, it is often helpful to work with a team and to share findings with others. All team members should reach their own individual conclusions, however, about what the findings mean.
The Nature of Mathematics—Patterns and Relationships
  • Things move, or can be made to move, along straight, curved, circular, back-and-forth, and jagged paths.
The Nature of Technology—Technology and Science
  • Tools are used to do things better or more easily and to do some things that could not otherwise be done at all. In technology, tools are used to observe, measure, and make things.
The Nature of Technology—Issues in Technology
  • People, alone or in groups, are always inventing new ways to solve problems and get work done. The tools and ways of doing things that people have invented affect all aspects of life.
The Physical Setting—The Structure of Matter
  • Things can be done to materials to change some of their properties, but not all materials respond the same way to what is done to them.
The Physical Setting—Energy Transformations
  • The sun warms the land, air, and water.
The Physical Setting—Motion
  • Things move in many different ways, such as straight, zigzag, round and round, back and forth, and fast and slow.
  • Things that make sound vibrate.
The Physical Setting—Materials and Manufacturing
  • Several steps are usually involved in making things.
  • Tools are used to help make things, and some things cannot be made at all without tools. Different tools have different uses.
  • Some objects can be used over again.
The Physical Setting—Information Processing
  • There are different ways to store things so they can easily be found later.
The Mathematical World—Numbers
  • Numbers can be used to count things, place them in order, measure them, or name them.
The Mathematical World—Symbolic Relationships
  • Sometimes changing one thing causes changes in something else. In some situations, changing the same thing in the same way has the same result.
The Mathematical World—Shapes
  • Circles, squares, triangles, spheres, cubes, cylinders and other shapes can be observed in things found in nature and in things that people build.
The Mathematical World—Uncertainty/Reasoning
  • Some things are more likely to happen than others.
  • Some events can be predicted well and some cannot.
  • Sometimes people aren't sure what will happen because they don't know everything that might be having an effect.
  • Often a person can find out about a group of things by studying just a few of them.
Common Themes—Constancy and Change
  • Objects change in some ways and stay the same in some ways.
  • People can keep track of some things, seeing where they come from and where they go.
  • An object can change in various ways, such as in size, weight, color, or temperature.
  • Small changes can sometimes be detected by comparing counts or measurements at different times.
  • Some things change so slowly or so quickly that the changes are hard to notice while they are taking place.
Common Themes—Scale
  • Things in nature and things people make have very different sizes, weights, ages, and speeds.
Habits of Mind—Values and Attitudes
  • Raise questions about the world and be willing to seek answers to these questions by making careful observations and trying things out.
Habits of Mind—Computation and Estimation
  • Explain to other students how they go about solving numerical problems.
Habits of Mind—Manipulation and Observation
  • Use hammers, screwdrivers, clamps, and scissors to shape materials and fasten them together.
  • Assemble, take apart, and reassemble constructions using interlocking blocks or other interconnecting pieces.
  • Make something out of paper, cardboard, cloth, wood, plastic, metal, or existing objects that can actually be used to perform a task.
Habits of Mind—Communication Skills
  • Describe and compare real-world objects in terms of number, shape, texture, size, weight, color, and motion.
  • Draw pictures that portray some features of the thing being described.
  • Interpret pictures, drawings, and videos of real-world objects and events.
  • Interpret oral descriptions of real-world objects and events.
Habits of Mind—Critical-Response Skills
  • Ask "How do you know?" in appropriate situations and attempt reasonable answers when others ask the same question.
Lesson-by-Lesson Summary
Lesson 1: The Properties of Light

Students begin by holding a brainstorming session regarding what they know about light and its sources. They discuss how light is important for many reasons such as providing energy for living organisms and heating the earth. Students then use cardboard tubes to focus on a light source in a light scavenger hunt—in addition to teacher modeling and movement demonstrations—to find out more about how light travels. Lesson 2: Transparent, Translucent, Opaque
In this lesson, students investigate how light interacts with different materials. Students use a flashlight to compare how light travels through three types of materials and which materials cast a shadow. They record the information that they collect during several investigations in a working vocabulary book and on a Student Activity Sheet titled Transparent, Translucent, or Opaque? Students use these tools to assess their understanding of the concepts of clear (transparent), cloudy (translucent), and dark (opaque) objects.
Lesson 3: Reflection: Bouncing Beams
In the opening discussion, students recall that light travels in straight lines, discuss that light must enter the eye in order for an object to be seen, and speculate on how the direction in which a light beam shines might be changed. Students then participate in several activities to learn about the law of reflection. First, they use flashlights and mirrors to demonstrate reflection. Then, they explore how reflections change when observed using curved, flexible mirrors compared with plane mirrors. Finally, students begin developing an understanding about the line of reflection and extend this geometric concept using handprints and letters and multiple mirrors.
Lesson 4: Refraction: Bending Beams
Students recall how light travels and how it can be reflected. They participate in demonstrations and activities such as "The Broken Pencil," which show how light rays can be bent by refraction. Students experiment with light rays using concave and convex lenses to see how a lens's shadow changes as light is refracted through it. Students explore how objects can appear larger or smaller when they are viewed through these different types of lenses. The culminating activity gives the students an opportunity to create their own magnifying lens using pipettes and waxed paper. Students discuss and make connections between the similarities and differences of using hand lenses and of using water droplets as magnifiers. Throughout this lesson, students record observations in their science notebooks.
Lesson 5: Vibrations and Sound
In Lesson 5, the class shifts its focus from light to sound. In this introductory lesson on sound, students compare the way light moves in a straight line with the way sound moves in waves by determining the opposite of straight. Students first will see the relationship between waves and sound by observing vibrations on a drum. After observing that the vibrations cause sound waves, they will test and observe that the frequency and wavelength of the waves affects the sound produced.
Lesson 6: How Does Sound Travel?
To further develop the understanding that sound travels in waves, students use solid objects and string to demonstrate the movement of sound. Students experience a sound being transferred by waves directly to their ears and then listen for the sound of the vibrations from the same object to be transferred to their ear at the other end of a string. Students then use a device through which they can transmit voice waves.

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