Light and Measurement (Electromagnetism and light-year)

This page was developed as part of the NASA-funded Sustainable Trainer Engagement Program by LPI
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Participating as Students: Define light, light-year, wavelength, frequency

Activities for Teaching about Light

  • Active Astronomy
    These classroom activities are for learning about infrared light but are also excellent for the topic of light and the electromagnetic spectrum in general.
  • UV Kid
    Students construct a person (or dog or imaginary creature) and equip him with special radiation detectors to investigate the source of ultraviolet radiation in this 60 minute activity. They explore how we can protect UV Kid! — and ourselves! — from being exposed to too much UV radiation.
  • Sorting Spectra
    Students compare stellar spectra for patterns and develop a standard for classifying them.

Activities Using Light to Measure Distances

  • Measuring a Kid Minute
    Students walk heel-to-toe for one minute, measure the distance they walked and then use that as an analogy for the distance that light travels in a specified time. STEP participant Brandy Laney developed the attached student directions and worksheet.
  • Light years Away
    Students develop models for a light year and compare numbers written in scientific notation and in standard notation.
  • Measuring Parallax
    In this kinesthetic activity, students model the motion of the Earth around the Sun and observe the parallax motion of objects relative to a background.  There is an option for older grade levels to measure the distance of the objects by measuring the angle with their hands and performing a trigonometric function.

Resources on Light and Spectroscopy

Vocabulary and Misconceptions for Light and Measurement