Properties of Light

Properties of Light

Background Info.:  Electromagnetic energy comes in different forms because of the varying wavelengths of each wave.  Some of these waves we can see, some we can feel, and others can be extremely harmful.  Below is a chart of electromagnetic energy and its various forms.

Created by: Kristal Pride
Saddleback Valley Unified School District




1.  Computer with internet access
2.  Activity sheet

Procedure:  Use your activity sheet to record the answers to the questions.  When traveling to a hyper link site make sure to READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE CLICKING.


 By the end of the lesson you should be able to answer the following questions.  Record your answers on the activity sheet.  You will need to work through the entire lesson before being able to answer each question completely.

1.  Why do we see a blue sky?
2.  Why do we see white clouds?
3.  Why do we see red, orange, and/or yellow sunsets?


Use the hyper links to find definitions for each of the words below.  Provide an illustration for each term.  Sometimes the definitions will not be clear and you will need to interpret what you read to get a definition.  Record your answers on your activity sheet. 

2.  Crest
4.  Medium
6.  Reflection
8.  Refraction (make sure to view both areas of refraction.)

There are other links associated with each of the ones above.  Make sure and visit some of them and read them.  You may find the answers to the questions from part A.


Visit the following link to experiment with refraction.  If possible, try every combination to gain a better understanding.  Draw a picture and include the details of at least 1 of your experiments.


As you have learned, light travels in waves.  When those waves enter our eyes we see objects and color.  We recognize the color of an object from the color that is reflected.  For example, we see that a flower is red because it reflects red light.  For some people however, the component of the eye that recognizes color (cones) are either not present or they do not function correctly.  Go to the link color blind and follow the directions on color recognition.  


Investigate the light debate and decide which side of the argument you think has the most supported information.

Visit Newton's Apple and participate in some of the activities.

Learn more about how some of the shortest waves in the electromagnetic spectrum heat your food at microwaves.

Experiment with a prism

See an image shimmer.

A Few Internet Resources:


Last Updated October 11, 1999
Last Revised August 8, 2000

Teacher Notes

Suggested Grade Level: 3 - 9

Science Content Standards:

S.C.O.R.E. Lessons Standards Search by Grade and Subject
S.C.O.R.E.  Standards and Framework
California Content Standards Grades K-12
California Content Standards Grades K-12 - Science -PDF Format

Grade 3:  1d; 2b,c,d
Grade 4: 1g
Grade 7: 6a,b,e,f,g
Grade 9: 4f 


This lesson is designed to be an introduction to the properties of light.  Students will learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, parts of a wave, and light behavior.  Activities and additional information should supplement this lesson so that students can obtain a greater understanding.  I have included recommended demonstrations.

1. Light spectrum with prisms

2.  Make a microscope lens (paper clip, water, glass) 

3. Refraction with pencil and/or ruler in glass of water
    Refraction with penny in glass of water


Data collection & interpretation
Computer literacy
Effective use of Internet resources


Create a student activity sheet to check for completion of activity and understanding.


1. Encourage students to visit some of the "Extras" sites included at the end of the lesson

2. Allow students to perform some of the demonstrations and provide explanations as to why the demonstrated phenomena occur.