# Comparing Colors ACTIVITY OVERVIEW NGSS RATIONALE NGSS CORRELATION

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1 10 Comparing Colors LABORATORY 1 class session ACTIVITY OVERVIEW NGSS RATIONALE In this activity, students first learn that visible light can be separated into different colors. Students then conduct an investigation to collect evidence that indicates that different colors of light carry different amounts of energy. From the results of their investigation, students conclude that higher frequencies of light carry more energy. In their final analysis, students apply the practice of analyzing and interpreting data as they examine light transmission graphs for three different sunglass lenses. It is through this analysis that students engage with the crosscutting concept of structure and function as they determine which sunglass lens provides the best protection for the eyes. NGSS CORRELATION Disciplinary Core Ideas PS-4.B Wave Properties: When light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object s material and the frequency (color) of the light. PS-4.B Wave Properties: A wave model of light is useful for explaining brightness, color, and the frequency-dependent bending of light at a surface between media. Science and Engineering Practices Planning and Carrying Out Investigations: Conduct an investigation to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meets the goals of an investigation. Crosscutting Concepts Structure and Function: Structures can be designed to serve particular functions by taking into account properties of different materials, and how materials can be shaped and used. WAVES 3

2 Common Core State Standards ELA/Literacy RST Follow precisely a multi-step procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks. WHAT STUDENTS DO Students explore light by investigating the colors of the visible spectrum. They first observe how a white light can be split into its component colors during a teacher demonstration. Then they investigate the energy levels of the different colors of white light through the use of a phosphorescent material. MATERIALS AND ADVANCE PREPARATION For the teacher 1 Scoring Guide: evidence and trade-offs (e&t) 1 diffraction grating *1 flashlight *1 white surface or wall For each pair of students 1 Phospho-box 1 card with star-shaped cutout 1 colored-film card 1 timer *1 set of colored pencils (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) (optional) For each student 1 Scoring Guide: evidence and trade-offs (e&t) (optional) *Not supplied in kit Masters for all Scoring Guides can be found in Teacher Resources III: Assessment. Practice using a diffraction grating to diffract white light into the visible spectrum for the demonstration described in Step 1 of the Teaching Suggestions. For best results, conduct this activity inside. TEACHING SUMMARY GET STARTED 1. Introduce colors of the visible spectrum. WAVES 4

3 DO THE ACTIVITY 2. Investigate the frequencies of visible light colors. 3. Introduce the definition of evidence. BUILD UNDERSTANDING 4. Identify the relationship between color and frequency. 5. Discuss selective transmission. 6. (e&t assessment) Identify the trade-offs of different lenses. TEACHING SUGGESTIONS GET STARTED 1. Introduce colors of the visible spectrum. a. Review how a rainbow is formed. Introduce the activity by asking, Who has ever seen a rainbow? It is likely that all of your students have seen one. Next ask, What causes the colors of a rainbow? Record their suggestions on a white surface or wall, such as chart paper, a board, or projector. Make sure students are aware that for a rainbow to form, there must be water droplets in the air and sunlight to pass through the water droplets. This phenomenon is called refraction. b. Explain how a diffraction grating works. Hold up the diffraction grating and explain that this film with grating on it can also make a rainbow by splitting up the white light that passes through it. Point out that the grating works by a different mechanism than a prism. Whereas refraction, as explored in a previous activity, is a result of the different frequencies of light being redirected through the glass, diffraction is a result of white light being spread out when it is transmitted through very fine slits. DO THE ACTIVITY 2. Investigate the frequencies of visible light colors. a. Conduct a teacher demonstration. In Part A of the Procedure, display the visible light spectrum to the class by holding the grating about 6 inches in front of a light source, such as a flashlight. Move the grating around a bit until the diffracted light is projected onto a white surface, such as a wall or paper. When introducing the term WAVES 5

4 visible light spectrum, review that a spectrum does not include starts and stops but, in this case, implies a continuous band of light. Visible light refers to human vision, since some animals and insects can see some light that we cannot. For example, bees can see ultraviolet but not red. Point out that the rainbow is not formed directly in front of the grating but is, instead, angled upward or to the side of it. Ask students, What does this tell you about the light that goes through the grating? If necessary, explain that this is evidence that the grating splits up the white light. Then use the wave model of light to explain that the incoming white light is separated by the structure of the grating into its component colors due to its varying wavelengths. 1 b. Review student responses to Procedure Part A. PROCEDURE STEP 2: SAMPLE STUDENT RESPONSE In ascending order, the colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. Students might also mention the color indigo. Scientists no longer classify indigo as a color in the visible light spectrum because it is a relatively narrow band of color that is transitional between blue and violet. In reviewing responses to Procedure Step 2, emphasize that the order of the visible light spectrum always shows in the same order of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet or vice versa, regardless of how it is diffracted or refracted. Review the terms frequency and wavelength. Point out that each color of light in the spectrum has a different frequency (and wavelength). 2 PROCEDURE STEP 3: SAMPLE STUDENT RESPONSE The colors blend from one to the next with a smooth transition between them. Explain that the frequencies of the light waves continually increase from the red side of the spectrum to the violet side. In reviewing responses to Procedure Step 3, reinforce the idea that the visible spectrum is continuous from red to violet. Although students are not familiar with the entire electromagnetic spectrum at this point, the evidence for answering this question foreshadows later activities where students learn about the continuous nature of the electromagnetic spectrum. 1 NGPS4B3 2 NGPS4B3 WAVES 6

6 In Part B, students engage in the science and engineering practice of Carrying Out an Investigation, using the Phospho-box and a card containing various colored films. They should observe that only blue and violet light cause the phosphorescent strip to glow, even when they double the exposure time. Since the phosphorescence in the strip is triggered by a threshold energy, this is evidence that the blue and violet lights have more energy than the other colors. For improved results, students should hold the boxes closer to the light source when exposing them. 4 e. Review student responses to Procedure Part B. 5,6 PROCEDURE STEP 10: SAMPLE STUDENT RESPONSE Violet was the brightest, and then blue. The other colors did not trigger the phosphorescent strip. The violet seemed equally as bright as when the card was not used. PROCEDURE STEP 16: SAMPLE STUDENT RESPONSE When the time was doubled, the results were similar. This indicates that the phosphorous strip is sensitive to the frequency of the light and not the total exposure. f. Ask students, Why don t all of the colors make the strip glow? Some students may suggest that not all colors of light carry energy. Make it clear that all colors carry energy, but each color carries a different amount. Each color is due to a wave with a slightly different frequency. Only some frequencies carry enough energy to cause the phosphorescent material in the strip to glow. Point out that the colors that make the strip glow blue and violet are found right next to each other in the visible light spectrum. This gives some evidence that higher frequencies (and, therefore, energy) of a light wave are related to its position in the spectrum. For visible light, violet has the highest frequency, and red has the lowest. The rest of the colors are in between, according to their position in the rainbow. The phosphorescent strip has threshold energy. Any energy equal to or greater than the threshold will make the strip glow. The threshold energy corresponds to the frequency delivered to the strip by blue light. 3. Introduce the definition of evidence. a. Formally present what is and isn t scientific evidence. Although the term evidence is used previously in the unit, Analysis Question 4 provides an opportunity to review the definition of evidence provided in the Student Book. Explain that scientists collect information 4 NGPS4B1 5 NGSPPI3 6 ELRS683 WAVES 8

7 (data) with various tools and strategies, including observation and experimentation. Tell students that they will now use the data they collected from the film experiment to decide if it gives information about what is damaging Tea Ana s eyes. The consideration of evidence is a key step in scientific reasoning and decision making. Throughout this unit, and throughout all SEPUP courses, students will collect and analyze information, which may become evidence to support or refute claims. It is important that students be able to distinguish evidence from opinion. Evidence is information that supports a claim. Opinion is the view someone takes about a certain issue based on his or her own judgment, often without the support of factual evidence. An informed opinion may be based on evidence; however, another person may have a different opinion based on the same evidence. When making a decision based on evidence, one must be critical of the source, quality, and quantity of evidence available. Review with students that scientific conclusions are based on evidence, and biased or insufficient evidence compromises the validity of these conclusions. The criteria for quality evidence may vary among the scientific disciplines. However, evidence is generally considered of higher quality if it is obtained through systematic investigation and is reproducible, meaning another investigation under the same set of circumstances obtains similar data. Additionally, the greater the quantity of high-quality evidence that can be provided, the stronger the case is in support or against the claim. Criteria for quantity also vary, but might include the sample size or number of trials in the experiment, the number of observations that support a conclusion, or the availability of multiple lines of evidence that lead to the same conclusion. Scientific conclusions should logically follow the evidence collected, and should not be overly generalized beyond the context of the investigation. BUILD UNDERSTANDING 4. Identify the relationship between color and frequency. a. Relate the results of the Phospho-box procedure to the story of Tía Ana. Ask students, Which color light is more likely to damage eyes due to its higher energy? Students should respond that the violet light is most likely to be damaging. In fact, it is not the violet light that is damaging but the ultraviolet that exists just beyond the violet frequencies. Students will be introduced to ultraviolet in subsequent activities, and so use this discussion of higher and lower energies to explore the frequencies of the various colors. It may be helpful to present a diagram that shows the relative WAVES 9

10 SAMPLE RESPONSES 1. What is the purpose of the card with the star-shaped cutout? The star-shaped cutouts provide a control so that we can see what white light, which contains all of the colors, does to the strip in the Phospho-box. Then we can compare the effects of each color to the effect of white light. 2. How do you think the colored-film card changes the white light into colored light? Describe how you might test your ideas to see if they are correct. Answers will vary. Even though you discussed this earlier, some students will indicate that the color is transferred to the light from the colored film. Although it is hard to provide convincing evidence to the contrary, make clear that this is not what is happening and that, instead, each film is acting as a filter, letting only one color through and blocking the rest of the colors. Transmission, reflection, and absorption will be further investigated in the next activity. Students may suggest using combinations of different colored filters, one in front of the other. If each filter only lets one color through, then using two different colored filters should allow little, or no, light through. Alternatively, they may suggest using a diffraction grating on the light that has passed through a single filter to see if the light can be split into different colors or is a single color. 3. Why do you think only some colors make the strip on the bottom of the Phospho-box glow? Explain. Answers will vary. Lead students to the understanding that different colors of light carry different amounts of energy, and when light is absorbed by a material, that energy is transferred to the material. In the case of the material that makes up the strip on the box, if light with enough energy is absorbed, the energy is then reemitted as the glowing light. Point out that glow-in-the-dark toys are made of a similar kind of material Is there enough evidence, or information that supports or refutes a claim, that supports the idea that the higher-energy colors of white light are damaging Tía Ana s eyes? Explain your answer. There is evidence that there is a range of energy carried by white light, with some colors (blue, violet) having more than others (red, orange). However, there is no evidence that supports the idea that the relatively higher energy in some colors is enough to damage Tía Ana s eyes. 5. Which characteristics of a light wave affect the amount of energy that it carries? Energy is related to the amplitude of a wave, as learned in a previous activity so a brighter light means more energy delivered to a surface. In this investigation, we have 10 NGPS4B3 WAVES 12

12 protection than Lens 3. The trade-off is that it is a very light lens with 60% of the light going through it, and I prefer a dark lens. It is a better trade-off than selecting Lens 3, however, because I would not like to wear a red lens at all. REVISIT THE GUIDING QUESTION How are the colors of the visible light spectrum similar to and different from each other? The colors of the visible spectrum are similar in that they are all light waves. They are different in that each color is a different frequency of light. Some frequencies carry higher energy than others. Colors of the visible spectrum are selectively transmitted depending on the material and the frequency of light. 14 ACTIVITY RESOURCES KEY VOCABULARY evidence frequency trade-off visible light spectrum wavelength BACKGROUND INFORMATION REFRACTION Refraction occurs when a wave propagating through one medium (or through a vacuum, in the case of light) encounters the interface of another medium at an angle. This results in a change in the angle of propagation of the wave as it travels across the interface. For example, the frequency of a wave is determined at the source and is fixed after the wave has left the source. However, the speed and the wavelength can change depending on the medium through which the wave travels. There is, as a result, a differential slowing of the wavefront that causes the light to refract, or change direction. In the case of white light, different frequencies of the light are redirected at slightly different angles, producing the light spectrum that we observe as a rainbow. 14 NGPS4B1 WAVES 14

13 DIFFRACTION GRATING A diffraction grating is a tool that diffracts the light that passes through it. It has a similar effect on light as a prism that refracts white light into the visible spectrum, although the sequence of the spectrum is different, as shown at left. A diffraction grating (top) and a prism (bottom) will both separate white light into the visible spectrum. The mechanism for the separation of light into a spectrum via diffraction is different from when light is refracted; in diffraction, the light bends around small obstacles that are roughly the same size as the wavelength of the light. A diffraction grating is a transparent or reflective film with parallel thin rulings on it, which cause this bending or dispersion of light. The change in direction of the light depends on the spacing of the grating and the wavelength of light. Diffraction gratings are commonly found in spectrometers and monochromators. Likewise, the alternating pits and smooth reflecting surfaces that form closely spaced rows on a CD or DVD are separated by a similar distance to that on an ordinary lab diffraction grating and will produce a separation of white light. VISIBLE LIGHT SPECTRUM The visible light spectrum is that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye and is perceived as color. It ranges in wavelength from about 400 nm (violet) to 700 nm (red). The boundaries are somewhat hard to distinguish as the colors blend and the outermost regions blend into ultraviolet and infrared. The table below shows the approximate range for each color. It also shows that the bandwidth for each color is not evenly distributed, with red having the widest wavelength range and yellow the narrowest. Color Wavelength (nm) Wavelength range (nm) Violet Blue Green Yellow Orange Red WAVES 15

14 WAVE-PARTICLE DUALITY OF LIGHT Electromagnetic radiation, such as light, exhibits wave properties including reflection, refraction, diffraction, and interference. However, the behavior of electromagnetic radiation cannot be explained entirely through an analysis of wave properties. In 1900, Max Planck suggested that electromagnetic radiation was not emitted continuously but, rather, intermittently in packets of energy. Such packets became known as quanta and photons. The energy of each quantum depends on the frequency of the electromagnetic radiation. Each quantum possesses a discrete amount of energy that is proportional to the frequency of the light. The energy of a quantum of violet light is higher than the energy of a quantum of red light, since violet light has a higher frequency than red light. Fractions of quanta cannot exist. In 1905, Albert Einstein theorized that light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation were not only emitted in whole numbers of quanta, but that they were also absorbed as quanta. In the case of light falling on phosphorescent material, the energy of some of the incident photons is absorbed by the electrons of the atoms in the material. This occurs only if the energy of the photon matches the change in allowable energy states of the electrons in the material. If the energy matches, then the electron temporarily moves to a higher excited state. As the electron drops back to the ground state it emits photons, causing the material to glow. The energy of the emitted photons will depend on the energy states through which the electron transitioned. Consequently, certain colors of light will make the phosphorescent material glow while others will not. WAVES 16

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