Prior to conducting the lesson, prepare 12 frames (two identical sets of six) made from shoebox lids or something similar. Cut a two-inch square window out of the center of each lid. Tape a different material over the hole of each frame and write the name of the material on the frame. Make sure you select materials, including fabrics, that cast a range of shadow densities. Some items to include might be: cling-wrap, colored plastic, crepe paper, colored tissue paper, chiffon, stretchy fabric, felt, bubble wrap, terrycloth, etc.
Save any small pieces of each material and place into separate containers. Students will be required to glue a sample of each onto their worksheet.
- 12 prepared frames
- A variety of materials to test shade properties
- Clear plastic container
- Revisit the concept that objects are made of materials that suit their purpose. Have students brainstorm examples of these types of materials.
- Discuss ways we can minimize our exposure to the sun (e.g. seeking shade, wearing sunscreen, or wearing protective clothing). Ask the students:
- What types of clothes can we wear to protect ourselves from the sun? (long sleeved shirts, hats, sunglasses)
- What types of materials do you think would provide better shade from the sun?
- What types of materials are better for sun-safe clothes to be made from?
- Explain that shadows (shade) are formed because something is blocking the light. Demonstrate this by shining a flashlight onto your hand and showing the shadow that forms underneath. Shine the flashlight onto a clear plastic container to demonstrate the light passing through, resulting in little or no shadow.
- Show students the different materials they will be testing in today’s experiment. Brainstorm the properties of each and explain that they will be investigating which material provides the best shade.
- Model how to hold the frame of the shoebox up to the light allowing the material to cast a shadow.
- Display and discuss the Shadow Types Worksheet. Students will work with a partner and use all six frames, recording their observations in the table as they go.
- Monitor and support the students as they complete their investigation outside. Ensure they are recording their results and completing the worksheet as they go. Rotate the frames until each group has tested each material.
- Ask students to return to the classroom and share their findings with another pair of students.
- As a class, discuss any differences in their results and why there may be discrepancies.
- Ask students to use a three-finger self-assessment and share with their partner how well they cooperated with each other during the investigation. (One finger – more effort required, two fingers – good, three fingers – excellent).
Encourage more capable students to consider those materials in the investigation that cast a little shadow, and brainstorm other materials that would cast the same type of shadow.
Support less confident students by completing the investigation in a small group with adult support.