The Art and Science of Light and Color
Teacher Guidelines

The sun loses energy by emitting light. A tiny fraction of that light reaches the earth. The sun's energy arrives as light with a range of wavelength, consisting of visible light, infrared, and ultraviolet radiation.


Light interacts with matter by transmission (including refraction), absorption, or scattering (including reflection). To see an object, light from the object - emitted by or scattered from it - must enter the eye.

Color is the perceptual characteristic of light described by a color name. Specifically, color is light, and light is composed of many colors - those we see are the colors of the visual spectrum; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Objects absorb certain wavelengths and reflect others back to the viewer. We perceive these wavelengths as color.

Since the colors that compose sunlight or white light have different wavelengths, the speed at which they travel through a medium such as glass differs; red light, having the longest wavelength, travels more rapidly through glass than blue light, which has a shorter wavelength. Therefore, when white light passes through a glass prism, it is separated into a band of colors called a spectrum. The colors of the visible spectrum, called the elementary colors, are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (in that order).

We develop ideas for the environment, using visual elements one being color. Student describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in school are interrelated to the visual arts.

Pedagogy includes:

Mind Maps, Cinquain Poems, KWL, Metaphor making, Scoring Guides, Vocabulary, Learning Reflections, Collage , Learning Journal

Journal prompts are included in each day's lesson. It provides an opportunity to ease into a lesson, gives insight into student's prior knowledge base, and allows judgment free expression of ideas. There are no right / wrong answers to journal prompts. Encourage learners to respond to the prompts without worrying about grammar, syntax or spelling.

Scoring Guides included in lesson; mind maps, cinquain poems, metaphor projects, project, unit evaluation by students, peer evaluation, and teacher evaluation rubrics, journal/portfolio scoring guide, and KWL evaluation

Independent Study topics and scoring guides; Color blindness, Analysis of light and color in an art piece, custom and culture of color, optical illusion

Daily Lesson Overview Lessons based on a 50 minute period

Make clear your expectations about student note taking during all of the lessons. Some lessons are independent and others are all class. Either way, students should have a method of collecting the information that they are being introduced to. There are five effective note taking strategies found in the following website. Try to have students practice one new technique each opportunity they have to take notes. It will keep things interesting. Humans retain images much longer than written words so more illustrations and drawings means greater understanding and retention of material. Though the examples used in this site are directed toward language arts, they can easily be adapted to science content.

Day 1

1. Journal/portfolio prompt: Color is related to light …

2. Begin with introduction of the journal/portfolio. See Journal and Rubric documents. Explain that there will be a prompt each day that must be entered into the journal and their response to that prompt. These are to be kept in the journal and can be referred to to see if student thinking has changed over time about light and color.

3. Pre-assessment of content knowledge related to light and color. See Mind Mapping document. 4. Introduction of Project and associated Project Scoring Guide. See Project document.

Day 2

1. Journal/portfolio prompt: Illustrate the word light without using the word light- In resources there is an example of how this might be made clear to learners.

2. Distribute the non-vocabulary list. Explain to students that they will be creating their own vocabulary list and will share terms with each other. The idea is that students will discover terms related to light and color that they will want or need to add to their vocabulary list. No one list is going to be comprehensive on it's own. But, when the class exchange terms and understanding of the terms the individual lists will become more complete.

This is a beginning vocabulary list students will add terms as they move through the lessons.

3. Introduce or review with students, dependent on prior knowledge levels, the physiology of sight. The following website is a good basic introduction or review of photoreceptors.This unit does not hinge on a working knowledge of eye structures (rods and cones) but it will be helpful for learners to make a concrete connection that vision is a function of both the eye and the brain. See Student folder for the note taking assignment that accompanies this exercise.

4. Mind Map activity 2.1

5. Introduction of Independent Study Assignment

Day 3

1. Journal/portfolio prompt: I think some animals can see in the dark better than humans because...

2. KWL - Light See KWL intro and explanation

3. KWL - Color See KWL intro and explanation

4. Tooter 4 Kids website section

Light in Color and Laws of Light and Exploratorium, read more about light

5. Instructor, you may want to check out the concept of "simultaneous contrast" because it is fun and interesting. Here are a couple of links that may be helpful...

6. This link is also noted later in the lesson.

Day 4 The Primary Colors of Light

1. Journal Prompt: Roy G. Biv is …

2. ROY G BIV, light spectrum, color wheel lesson

The following website is a fun, colorful, and highly interactive sight to explore either as a whole group/class using a projector or to assign students to work either individually or groups of 2 or 3. There is a section on "after images" and multiple lab set ups that will assist both the instructor and the learner. It provides a comprehensive Color Theory overview. As the instructor you can select a which section, from a comprehensive list of color topics that you think best suits the needs, interests and cognitive levels of your students.

Additionally, you could spend several days exploring this website with students using a projector and computer. assign sections for student teams to explore and report out on, or a combination of both. There are conservatively 5 days worth of materials worthy of inclusion. However, recognizing the limitations of time, pick and choose at your discretion.

Day 5 Bent Light Activity

1. Journal Prompt: I am curious about...

2. Background information: Light travels through the air in straight lines. If it didn't there wouldn't be any shadows. The only way we can see an object is if rays of light hit the object and it then reaches our eyes.

Students complete Disappearing Coin and Bent Pencil Labs and associated worksheets.

The student "Bent Light Lab Worksheet" and the "Bent Pencil Light Lab Worksheet" should be included in the student journal portfolio.

The coin rising experiment requires minimum materials and prep work, but results in a lot of "ahaa's" for learners around the concept that light only travels in a straight line. The answer to the final question asked in the worksheet is that light moves more slowly through water than it moves through air.

Next, The bending pencil experiment is well worth doing with students.

Straight or bent?
What happens when you look at the pencil through the side of the glass?

Light plays tricks on your eyes. The pencil looks bent. This is because light travels slower through water than through air. As the light enters the glass of water it slows down(changes direction) and as it leaves the glass it speeds up again – therefore making the pencil look as though it is bent!

The answer to the final question on the student worksheet is: This is because light travels slowerthrough water than through air. As the light enters the glass of water it slows down(changes leaves the glass it speeds up again – therefore making the pencil look as though it is bent! direction) and as it re-enters the air the light beam speeds up and bends back again. Though we have not introduced term, we can now use the word refraction.


3. The term refraction should now be included in their KWL and mind map/graphic organizers and/or non-vocabulary list.

4. Mind Map, progress check on independent study

Ask students to include smaller versions of their lab worksheet illustrations in their mind maps. Also take a look at the caption directions and re-emphasis or re-teach the idea of consistent lettering in their mind maps. Paying attention to using capital letters that really are capital letters and not just really big lower case letters. Your grammar/language arts teaching colleagues will appreciate your efforts...smiles.

5. KW - L entry

Today's L entry should be significant. Give students adequate time to write out a rough draft sentence or two before actually entering into the L column. Processing this with them as a whole group is also helpful. For visual learners they can also illustrate this concept in the L section

Day 6 Illustrated Cinquain Poems

1. Journal Prompt: I would describe the color __________(student fill in the blank with a color word) in this way .......

2. Instructor: Take a bit of time and explore the website noted below. It contains terrific basic information. It is also a site you can review with your students using a projector. I like this site because it has a multitude of links to areas worthy of further inquiry. I would use this prior to making the cinquain assignment. If you use it with the class, ask them to take notes on the materials presented. It will help them with the Cinquain assignments.

This site is also a good resource to review and has a lot of potential for classroom use as a general lecture format with note taking on the part of the students.

3. Refer to the Cinquain document in the Student folder. Provide students will the scoring guide to assist them in understanding the components required for an exceeding or proficient score. Students will complete a Cinquain Poem on the topic "Light ". Encourage them to use their notes and other classroom materials to find the perfect set of words to include in their poem. A rough draft followed by a final illustrated poem written in pen or on word processor with correct format will be included in the student's journal. The illustrations should show craftsmanship and thought. For example is light represented as traveling in a straight line? Or Is black understood as a lack of light rather than a color? Of course, each student will go about this differently, but stay alert for redundant terms or less than accurate terms in this assignment.

4. Repeat the process using "Color" as the topic of the Cinquain. The critical piece of this excercise is to determine where there are holes in the learner's knowledge base, or incorrect thinking about the topic. Push learners to use scientific language to the greatest extent possible while still remaining true to the format of the poetry form.

5. Use cinquain scoring guide for self, peer and teacher assessments - making improvements and clarification with self and peer feedback sessions. Teacher assessment should reflect both peer and self assessment feedback responses. Teacher should be able to see clarification and higher level vocabulary and synthesis of ideas with each of the two subsequent drafts after peer and self evaluation.

Day 7 and 8 Light Reflection

1. Journal Prompt: It would be interesting if...

2. Explore the following website before you explore it with students. Based on your students, choose to either investigate the site as a whole class using a projector or divide the class into learning teams, if there are enough computers and internet access.

3. Modify the Funny Faces Activity in the following way. Have students place a piece of drawing paper on the non reflective side of the mirror. Their task is to draw the opposite side of their face. The side that is not showing in the mirror. Have them really take their time with this drawing, paying particular attention to the space between the eyes, the broad part of their nose, the distance of the outside of their eye to the edge of their face. Details, details.

There are several activities in this site. You can easily spend two days working through them. The Mirror writing is fun for them to develop coded messages that they can exchange and de-code. Mention to them that Leonardo daVinci was known for his journals that were all encoded in this manner. "his quest for knowledge, driven by a remarkable curiosity, Leonardo kept many notebooks filled with his own observations, explanations, comments, notes, outlines, musings, and jottings, many accompanied by pen-and-ink drawings, sketches, plans, diagrams, and preparatory studies. Most of Leonardo's notebooks have have been lost, but a number are preserved today in libraries and private collections. Leonardo was left-handed, and in order to facilitate his note-taking, he wrote in mirror-writing, from right to left. "

Ask students to sign and date their drawing and include it in their journals.

4. KW - L entry

Day 9 Exploring After Images

An afterimage or ghost image is an optical illusion that refers to an image continuing to appear in one's vision after the exposure to the original image has ceased. One of the most common afterimages is the bright glow that seems to float before one's eyes after looking into a light source for a few seconds. The phenomenon of afterimages may be closely related to persistence of vision, which allows a rapid series of pictures to portray motion.

1. Journal Prompt: I know that light and color .....

2. Use the following link to explore with students in whole class group.

2. Student will conduct independent or team research around the artists Monet and Van Gogh and why these two artists are known especially for their treatment of light and color in their paintings. Both artists used the phenomena of "afterimage" in some of their works. Students search for Light Effects as reflected (pardon the pun) in the art works of these two masters. Either library or internet searches will provided fruitful resources.

3. Students will take notes and add information from their research to their evolving mind map, evidence of research in the form of notes will be added to their journals. Notes should include lots of illustrations, in color to the extent possible to demonstrate their understanding of how light and color and after images were used by Monet and VanGogh and why their works are prized. Documentation should include specific art work titles.

Day 10 Color mixing Activity

A fun and tasty color mixing lesson for the primary grades has application for middle and high school students. The concept is

The following site contains a basic but very good color mixing activity. It can be tuned up for higher grade levels.

Day 11 Psychology of color

1. Journal Prompt: The most soothing color to me is _________because _______

2. Start the lesson with this fun color psychology quiz. Students can record their answers on a piece of paper while teacher scrolls through the questions. After each answer discuss with students their reaction to the answers.

3. Continue to work through the activities at this site.

4. Independent Study check

Day 12 Self and Teacher Assessment using KWL as assessment tool

Day 13 Final Mind Map

Day 14 Review all components of journal/portfolio - use scoring guide for direction

Assemble journal/portfolio for final presentation

Day 15 Independent Learning Project Presentation

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