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Unit


Light
11

Why can you see all the colors of the


spectrum in a rainbow? What does
water have to do with it?

Fig. 1 Have you ever seen a rainbow?

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Getting started
White light
The light that
comes from
the Sun. It is
made up of
lots of colors,
which you
can see in the
spectrum.

Absorb
When a ray
of light isnt
reflected from
the object.
It may be
converted to
heat energy.
Reflect
When a
ray of light
bounces
off an object
and changes
direction.

You met the word spectrum in Unit 8. When you look at a


spectrum you can see all the colors which make up the white
light that comes from the Sun.

Fig. 2 This shows the


spectrum of white light.

Fig. 3
A green leaf.

In previous grades, you learned that objects which reflect all


of the light appear white. Colored objects reflect some colors
of light and absorb others. For example, objects that reflect
just blue light appear blue, and objects that reflect just red
light appear red.
1. Does a green leaf absorb or reflect green light? 
2. Does a green leaf absorb or reflect blue light? 
3. What color of light does a banana reflect? 
4. If you take a photo of a white piece of paper in a forest,
thepaper will look green in the photo. Why?

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Learning Outcomes
Concepts
In completing this unit you will learn to:
Explain the properties and behavior
of light (P3)

Success Criteria
Learning outcome P3
Here is what you might aim to achieve by
the end of this unit:
Emerging identify properties
oflight

Key Terms
The meanings of these terms can be found
Developing describe properties
in the glossary on pages 27590.
and behavior of light
absorb
refraction
blurred image
screen
Mastery explain properties and
behavior of light
image
sharp image
luminous
translucent
What level do you think you will be able
to achieve?
non-luminous
transparent
ray
white light
I know what
reflect
these words
Investigating Scientifically
S5, S11

mean

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1 Sources of light

P3

Tonight, if the sky is clear, find a dark place and


look at the stars. Think about what you can see.
Where are the stars? How can you see them?

Fig. 4 Here are


just some of the stars
you can see on any
clear night.

Seeing the stars can tell us quite a lot about the properties
oflight.
In Unit 10 you learned that sound cant travel in space. This is
because space is a vacuum. Sound can only travel through a
material, for example air or water.
But we can see the stars so this means that light can travel
through a vacuum.

Fig. 5 These
astronauts can see
each other, but they
cant hear each
other unless they
use their radios.

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When you see stars you are looking at very distant objects.
You can see a distant star because light travels from the star
in a straight line. A light ray is the name we give to a line
oflight.
light

from

star

Fig. 6 If you could


follow the ray of
light from a star in a
straight line you would
eventually get to the star.

Ray
Light travels
in straight
lines. These
lines are rays.

The speed of light


Alpha Centauri is the closest star to us. The light you might
see tonight from Alpha Centauri was produced in the star
almost four and a half years ago. It has taken that long to
travel the distance between the star and the Earth.
Alpha Centauri is about 41000000000000kilometers away
from us!
We know the distance between Alpha Centauri and the Earth.
We also know how long it takes light to reach us from this
star. Using these facts, we can calculate the speed of light.
The speed of light is approximately 300 000 000 meters per
second. Light travels almost a million times faster than sound!
Luminous and non-luminous objects
Stars are luminous because they produce light. Most things
we see every day dont produce light. These objects are nonluminous.

Fig. 7 You see a


luminous object when
the light it produces
reaches your eye.

Luminous
Things which
produce light
are called
luminous.
Nonluminous
Things which
dont produce
light are called
non-luminous.

Fig. 8 You see a


non-luminous object
when the light it reflects
reaches your eye.

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Which of these are luminous, and which are non-luminous?


Put a tick in the correct box.

luminous non-luminous

stars

light bulb

tree

eye

the Sun

water

the Moon

Fig. 9
You can see
shadows on the
sand.

Think about luminous and non-luminous objects. Explain


how shadows show that light must travel in straight lines. The
diagram in Fig. 10 will help.


Fig. 10
How the shadow of
a wall forms.

shadow
ends here

shadow

shadow
starts here

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2 Pinhole camera

P3 S5
S11

Activity 2.1
What to do:
1. Take the lid off the box so you can see inside.
2. Make a small hole in the middle of one end of the box. Use
a needle first, and then a knitting needle to make the hole
larger.
3. On the other end of the box, cut most of the end away.
4. Stick a sheet of translucent paper over the end that you
have cut away. This will be the screen.

Equipment:
A shoebox,
wax paper or
other translucent
paper,
needle and
knitting needle,
black paint,
sticky tape,
camera,
scissors
Translucent
A material
that light
can travel
through,
but which
you cannot
see through
clearly.

5. Put the lid on the box. Your camera is ready to use!


6. Use your camera to look at some objects on the screen. You
should be able to look at:
objects outside the window
luminous objects in the classroom.
7. Take a photo of the pinhole cameras screen.

Screen
A flat
surface that
an image
appears on
so that we
can see it, for
example on a
smartphone.

8. Describe the images you see on the screen.


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To understand why the images are upside down, remember


that light moves in straight lines.
Fig. 11 Here is
a pinhole camera.
You can see the rays
of light which pass
through the pinhole.

Image
This is a
picture of an
object. When
you see a
reflection of a
tree in water,
the reflection
is an image.
When you see
an actor in a
film, you are
really seeing
an image of
the actor.
Equipment:
Your pinhole
camera,
black paint,
tinfoil,
sticky tape,
needle

screen

pinhole

Activity 2.2
In this activity you will improve your pinhole camera.
What to do:
1. You can improve the camera by painting the inside of the
box black. Remove the screen while you paint the box.
Dont forget to paint inside the lid.
2. Use your camera to look at the same objects. Again, you
can take photos. Are the cameras images better? If they
are, explain why.

3. Take the lid off the box again to make the next step easier.
4. Make a small hole in the tinfoil with a needle. Stick the
tinfoil in front of the pinhole on the camera, so that the
hole in the tinfoil lines up with the hole in the box.

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5. Put the lid back on and try the camera again. What
difference has this change made?

Sharp image
An image
which is clear.
We can see
the shape
accurately.

Images through the pinhole camera


Some images are sharp and some are blurred.

Blurred
image
An image
which is not
clear. We
cannot see
the shape
accurately.
Fig. 12 We can
see a sharp image
of the apple on the
left; the apple on the
right is blurred.

Here are two images of an object seen through a pinhole


camera.
object

image

object

image

Fig. 13 A pinhole
camera with a large
hole (on the right)
makes a blurred
image; a pinhole
camera with a small
hole (on the left)
makes a sharp
image.

A large hole lets more light through. The light reflected from
one point on the object travels in a straight line to many parts
of the image. This makes the image blurred.
A small hole lets less light through. The light reflected from
one point on the object can travel in a straight line to just a
small part of the image. This makes the image sharp.

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3 The eye

P3

Your eye works in a similar way to the pinhole


camera. The pupil lets light into your eye, just like the pinhole
in the camera. You can see the parts of the eye inFig. 14.
Pupil

Fig. 14 How an
image is formed in
your eye.

retina

This is the part of the eye


that lets light in. It has the
same function as the pinhole in a pinhole camera.

Iris

The coloured part of the


eye that surrounds the
pupil.

pupil

optic nerve Cornea

The transparent cover in


front of the eye.

Retina

iris

The back surface of the


eye. This is like the screen
in your pinhole camera.

cornea

Optic nerve

This communicates
information from the retina
to the brain.

The image in your eye, just like the image in the pinhole
camera, is upside down! Your brain does the work so that you
see things the right way up.

4 Reflection

P3

We are going to look at what happens when light


hits a mirror.
Equipment:
Mirror

Activity 4.1
What to do:
1. Arrange your team like this:

A
B

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2. Who does student B see in the mirror? 


3. Who does student A see in the mirror? 
4. Who does student C see in the mirror? 
A mirror always reflects light in the same way. Here are
several rays of light hitting a mirror:

mirror

Fig. 15 Rays of light


hit a mirror and are
reflected from it.

Light reflects away from the mirror at an angle which equals


the angle at which it hits the mirror.

x
x

mirror

Fig. 16 The angle of


the ray hitting the mirror
and the reflected ray are
the same.

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Transparent
A material
that light
can travel
through.
You can see
through
transparent
objects.

5 Refraction

P3

When light moves between two different


transparent materials, the speed of light changes.
The change in the speed of light changes the angle of the
straight ray of light. This change is called refraction. Fig. 17
shows what happens to rays of light when they move from
water into air.

light from Sun or


other luminous object

Fig. 17
This diagram shows
refracted rays of
light moving from
water to air.

Refraction
The change
of the angle
of a ray of
light when
it moves
between two
transparent
materials.

The amount of refraction depends on what the two materials


are. We most often see refraction between water and air. You
have probably noticed refraction when in the bath, or when
looking at boats in clear water.

Fig. 18
An example of
refraction. This duck
isn't cut in two!

The image on the retina of the eye is made by the rays of light
that enter the eye. To find where the object appears to be, we
need to continue the rays as though they had always been
travelling at the same angle.

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apparent
object
object

Fig. 19
Refraction makes an
object seem to be
closer to the surface,
and further away
horizontally.

Which of these sentences are true?


Refraction is most obvious when you look directly
down through the water

Refraction is most obvious when you are looking


across the surface of the water.

Refraction is the same at whatever angle you look


at the surface of the water

6 Splitting white light

P3

You know that sunlight is made up of light of lots of


different colors. But it would be nice to check!
In the previous section you learned that light is refracted
because it changes speed when it moves from one transparent
material to another.
In fact, for many materials, the different colors of light are
refracted by different amounts. The angle of refraction is
slightly bigger for blue light than it is for red light.

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This means you can use a glass prism to split sunlight into its
different colors.

red
orange

white light

yellow
green
blue
indigo
glass prism

Fig. 20
This is a glass prism.

Equipment:
Ray box,
prism,
white card

violet

Fig. 21
White light is split into many colors by a glass prism.

Activity 6.1
What to do:
1. Your teacher will show you how a prism splits light from
the ray box into a spectrum.
2. What colors can you see? Discuss them with the class.

7 Presentation Task
The unit began by asking about rainbows. You already know
that rainbows show the colors in a spectrum, but why are they
caused by water, and why are they curved?
Use the knowledge from this unit to research why a rainbow is
formed. Present your explanation on a poster.
Include photos of rainbows.
Can you make your own rainbow? Include photos and
an explanation.
Use a diagram to show how light rays are split to cause
a rainbow.

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8 Feedback

Medals and Missions

Self Assessment
Shade in the level you have achieved for each outcome in this unit.
Concept Learning
Outcome

P3
Skill Learning
Outcome

S5
S11

Emerging
Identify the properties
of light.

Emerging

Developing
Describe properties
and behavior of light.

Developing

Mastery
Explain properties and
behavior of light.

Mastery

Select equipment
for carrying out the
investigation.

Select suitable
equipment to collect
data.

Evaluate the use of


selected equipment.

Draw a conclusion.

Draw a conclusion,
related to the scientific
question or prediction.

Draw a conclusion,
consistent with the
data, and explain
it using scientific
knowledge and
understanding.

Medals
What have been your greatest achievements during this unit? For example,
mastering a concept outcome, improving a skill or feeling proud of your
organizational abilities, team work or presentation.
What did you do well?

How did you do it?

1.

2.

3.

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Missions
What are your targets for improvement? Select two Learning Outcomes to focus
on and set yourself a target. For example, if you have reached developing, what
do you need to do next time to achieve mastery?
Learning Outcomes

Target

1.

2.

9 Science I have learned in this unit

Light travels in straight lines.


Light can travel through a vacuum, like space.
Light travels very fast much faster than sound.
Because light travels in straight lines, it can make an image on the

screen of a pinhole camera.


Light enters the eye through the pupil, and makes an image on

the retina.
Light is reflected in a mirror in a predictable way.
Light is refracted when it moves from one transparent substance

to another.
Refraction causes an object to appear to be in a slightly different

place than where it really is.


Refraction can split white light into the spectrum of colors.

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