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Name of Lesson: Why is the sky blue?

Name: Megan Hensiek

Grade Level: Subject: Education Standards Addressed: 3.III.C.3

3rd Earth Science The student will observe that the sun supplies heat and light to the earth. The lesson expands on the
composition of the sun's wavelengths and what happens when the light goes through our atmosphere.

Overview & Purpose: This lesson plan will help students understand why our sky appears blue. By using the education standards addressed
student’s will be able determine that the sky appears blue because long wave lengths known as Rayleigh Scattering pass through the
atmosphere; where short wave lengths get absorbed, then scattered around the sun. Because our eyes our sensitive to blue frequencies, the
sky appears blue, although light is composed of many colors.

Objectives Students will be able to: Materials Needed

1. Learn that light is composed of many different colors, although we may only see 1. Image/Definition worksheet
one color perhaps “white”. 2. PowerPoint presentation
2. Describe the visible light spectrum 3. (5) clear glasses filled with
3. Learn how light waves reach earth
4. (5) flashlights
4. Understand why light waves are a form of energy 5. (5) spoons
5. Describe what happens when light waves encounter different materials, particularly 6. skim milk
in the atmosphere. 7. notecard(s).

Warm-up and/or Review 1. Have students talk with their neighbor and discuss all the explanations as to why
the sky appears blue.
2. Introduce new vocabulary words by displaying objects that best demonstrate the
meaning behind the word. For instance, hold up a light bulb and ask what color they
see, then introduce the word visible light and explain that the light we see (white) is
part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Continue to review words that may be
helpful; wavelength, frequency, atmosphere, molecules. Drawings of objects and
symbols such as a rainbow image may be helpful to describe the visible light
Introduction/Presentation 1. Introduce topics that correlate with the sky appearing blue: Hand each student a
piece of paper that has a drawing and definition of the key terms being employed in
today’s lesson. The students must match the word that best describes the picture.
For instance; a picture of a cloud could be matched with atmosphere. A picture of a
rainbow may be matched with the electromagnetic light spectrum. Allow students to
work together and discuss every image and word. Next, have students share their
answers by picking names out of the popsicle stick jar. Reiterate to students we are all
learning and if they were stuck or confused help the students become familiar with
these new concepts by describing what each image and term means.
2. Begin PowerPoint: Ask students “who knows what sunlight” is? If no one
volunteers pick a name out of popsicle jar. Explain that sunlight is composed of heat
and light. Light is a type of energy that travels in waves. Part of the Electromagnetic
spectrum. Next explain what the electromagnetic spectrum is; light that is composed
of all colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Each of these colors
has a different wavelength and can be separated. Help students make the connection
to the rainbow spectrum and that the colors are arranged according to their
wavelength. Violet, indigo, and blue light have a higher wavelength than red, orange,
and yellow. Ask if students have any questions at this point before continuing. Next,
explain that students can remember these colors with an acronym known as
ROYGBIV. BIV, has high frequencies lots of scattering. Explain frequency and
scattering in terms the students may comprehend. Ex) (scattering- think of sprinkling
plant seeds all over soil). Then explain ROY has low frequencies and less scattering.
Note that our eyes are sensitive to blue frequencies. Display a diagram with all the
colors and where the belong on the frequency spectrum.
3. Continue with PowerPoint: Ask students “where do you guys think this light
travels?” (Add humor: to the moon? To your house? To your grandma’s house?)
Believe it or not light actually travels through space in a straight line as long as
nothing disturbs it. Explain that dust particles, and water droplets longer than a
wavelength of light, get reflected. Next introduce a new vocabulary word Rayleigh
Scattering- Gas molecules smaller than wavelength allow light to get absorbed and
eventually release in a different direction known as “scattering”. This works best with
the shortest wavelengths which are blue and violet. Therefore; the sky is blue
because long wave lengths pass through atmosphere and the short wavelengths like
blue and violet get absorbed and scattered around the sky.
4. Reiterate everything that was just taught to students and make sure to use the
pictures and diagrams on the PowerPoint provided.
5. Ask if students have any questions, then continue to activity.
Practice/Activity Introduce the activity. “We are going to "scatter the different wavelengths (colors in Resources Needed/Used
light) to observe what happens. (E.g. Web, books (provide appropriate academic
style citation (APA, MLA, etc.)
1. Break students evenly into five groups.
2. Distribute a tall clear glass with water, a flashlight, a white notecard, spoon, and Why Is The Sky Blue Lab - Rutgers University.
(n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2017, from
skim milk to each group. http://engineeringplanet.rutgers.edu/pdf/lessons/e
3. Demonstrate the activity first then have students follow. ngineering/civil_enviromental/2004/lesson5.pdf.
4. Instruct groups to place a flashlight so that the beam shines through the glass. Keller, Lori. “Atmosphere Global Energy Lecture”.
Then dip the spoon in a glass of skim milk, coating the spoon, and slowly add and stir March 20, 2017.
it to the glass of water. Stir until you can clearly see the beam shining through the
5. Look at the beam from the side of the glass and then from the end of the glass.
You can also let the light project onto a white card, which you hold at the end of the
glass. From the side, the beam looks bluish-white. From the end, it looks yellow-
6. If you have added enough milk to the water you will be able to see the color of the
beam change from blue-white to yellow-orange along the length of the beam.
7. Explain to students that we add milk for the light to reflect off of. Then ask
students “what in the atmosphere would make light reflect or scatter?” (gases in the
atmosphere). Then ask “what happens to the other colors in the light?” (They travel
down into the atmosphere and hit the earth as heat and light).

Student Evaluation Distribute the same image and word definitions worksheet from the beginning of the
lesson, and see if the students can match the image with the description by
themselves. Track their progress.

Contingency Plan If the PowerPoint fails; write Definitions on board. Draw the electromagnetic
spectrum on board along with all key terms, wavelength, scattering, the earth,
clouds, wavelength frequencies. Continue with lesson as follows.

Teacher Self-Evaluation Assess how well the students are learning by asking them questions pertaining to
why the sky is blue at the end of the lesson. Ask them what they found challenging
about the lesson and make changes accordingly for the following year. If students
seem confused or stuck during the activities of worksheet explain the part they are
confused about in similar terms they can understand then draw images on the board
Additional Notes: This lesson may be challenging with the introduction to new vocabulary and concepts. Therefore, after each PowerPoint slide
pause and reiterate what was employed, and ask if anyone has any questions or are confused.