Grade Range
1st
Group Size
2-3 students
Active Time
1 hour, 50 minutes
Total Time
1 hour, 50 minutes
Area of Science
Physics
Materials Science
Key Concepts
Light, light absorption, light transmission
Learning Objectives
  • Explain the difference between translucent, transparent, and opaque materials.
  • Conduct an investigation to find out if a material is translucent, transparent, or opaque.
Credits
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
Image showing a glass, a frosted plastic beaker, and a ceramic cup standing in front of a wall. Light that shines on the objects projects shadows of each object on the wall. The glass shadow is very light, the frosted plastic beaker shadow is darker, and the shadow of the ceramic cup is black.

Overview

In this lesson, students explore firsthand what transparent, translucent, and opaque mean, and how they are related to light. They will place a variety of materials in front of an illuminated object and predict if and how well they will be able to see the object through the material sheet. In doing that, students will realize that different materials allow different amounts of light to pass through.

Remote learning: This lesson plan can be conducted remotely. The Engage section of the lesson can be done over a video call, then students can work individually and independently during the Explore section, using the Student Worksheet as a guide. A set of materials can be prepared in advance or students can use materials found around the house. End the lesson with discussion over a video call during the Reflect section.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • 1-PS4-3. Plan and conduct investigations to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Planning and Carrying out Investigations. Make observations (firsthand or from media) and/or measurements to collect data that can be used to make comparisons.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Compare predictions (based on prior experiences) to what occurred (observable events).

Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Construct an argument with evidence to support claim.
PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation. Some materials allow light to pass through them, others allow only some light through and others block all the light and create a dark shadow on any surface beyond them, where the light cannot reach.
Cause and Effect. Simple tests can be designed to gather evidence to support or refute student ideas about causes.

Materials


Materials needed for the 'Can you see through me?' lesson.

For each student group of 2-3:

  • Cardboard tubes, such as a toilet paper roll or paper towel roll
  • Rubber band
  • 3 different, small, opaque objects, such as a toy car, rubber ducky, action figure, plastic animal, etc.
  • Sheets of several transparent, translucent, and opaque materials (same for each group)
    • At least 2 different transparent sheets (plastic wrap, plastic baggie, glass from a picture frame)
    • At least 2 different translucent sheets (parchment paper, wax paper, frosted plastic sheet, tissue paper, white printer paper)
    • At least 2 different opaque sheets (cardstock paper, cardboard, wood, dark-colored construction paper)

For teacher:

  • Bag to hold the objects
  • Drinking glass
  • Frosted plastic cup
  • Ceramic cup
  • Flashlight

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Grade Range
1st
Group Size
2-3 students
Active Time
1 hour, 50 minutes
Total Time
1 hour, 50 minutes
Area of Science
Physics
Materials Science
Key Concepts
Light, light absorption, light transmission
Credits
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
Learning Objectives
  • Explain the difference between translucent, transparent, and opaque materials.
  • Conduct an investigation to find out if a material is translucent, transparent, or opaque.
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