NASA has released new composite images of the Earth at night. The images were all taken with the VIIRS instrument aboard the Suomi NPP satellite (an imager that orbits around Earth's poles). While the images are breathtaking, I'm more excited for what's coming next: later this year, NASA will be releasing DAILY data dumps from the night lights project. Meaning... scientists/anyone will be able to study the light/energy uses around the globe on a daily basis.
I love data.
On a sunny day, your shadow follows you everywhere! Have you ever noticed that it slowly changes position throughout the day? In this activity, track your shadow all day to see where it goes.
What you need
- A friend
- A clock
- A sunny day
- Early in the day, go stand out on the pavement. Make sure that you are in a big open space, without any tall objects around you.
- Take the chalk and trace around your feet.
- Give the chalk to a friend, and have them trace the outline of your shadow. Write the time above the outline.
- Every hour, repeat step 3 for at least five hours. Make sure you’re standing inside the foot outline you drew in step 2!
Take a look at all of the shadow outlines you’ve made – they moved quite a bit, didn’t they? You will also notice that the shadows have changed shape just a bit. Can you figure out why that is?
The Earth is a planet, which rotates around its axis (an imaginary line down the centre) once a day. During the day, as the Earth rotates from west to east, your position relative to the sun will become more and more westward, and the sun will appear to move higher in the sky. This phenomenon means that the sun hits your location at different angles all day.
One of the challenges with solar panels is they are not always in the direct path of the sun’s rays, since the sun moves during the day. In response to this problem, engineers have developed solar panels that can track the changing position of the sun and move accordingly, to get the most sunlight to its surface as possible.
Look at where your shadow fell at the beginning of the day, and look where it fell at the end of the day. From there, you can figure out which way is north, east, south, and west. If you’re having trouble, think about the spin of the planet. From there, determine which direction the sun rises and sets in, and use that information to help you figure it out.
Students explore the characteristics of light using ray boxes, mirrors, lenses, prisms, and filters. They discover the fundamentals of reflection, refraction, colour, and perception, and have fun using paint and light to compare and contrast additive and subtractive colour theory.
This bilingual Edukit consists of five modules:
- Light and Vision — With activities like “How do we see?” and “Do we really see light?”, explore the physics of light and conduct experiments to better understand its properties.
- Reflection and Refraction — Explore reflection and refraction through hands-on experiments with lenses and mirrors to better understand light.
- The Properties of Light — Explore the visible spectrum and experiment with colour theory. Activities include an introduction to the colours of the rainbow, mixing up white light, interference patterns, and lasers.
- The Nature of Colour — Explore and experiment with colour theory in a number of ways.
- Visual Perception — Pull everything together and explore human interaction with light through activities using spinning colour wheels, illusion, and perception.
- Hodson ray box
- student ray boxes
- green and red laser pointers
- lenses, mirrors, and prisms
- laser mazes
- colour filters
Additional Information and Learning Aids
- extensive manual for teachers, including background material, templates, and lesson plans for activities
- laminated photos of light phenomena and optical illusions
- colour transparencies to support activities
- packing guide
The Edukit comes in a sturdy case on wheels.
Dimensions: 63 cm x 49 cm x 35 cm (25" x 20" x 14")
Weight: 27 kg (60 lbs.)
$129 for four weeks (includes outbound shipping and handling)
To reserve this Edukit, call 1-866-442-4416 (toll-free in Canada).
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may have heard the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” However, can we really believe everything that we see, hear, taste, smell and touch? As it turns out, maybe not; it’s easier than you might think to trick your mind into perceiving something that’s not there!
How it works
Illusions come from a difference between what’s actually around you, and how it is sensed and perceived by the brain. In some cases, the illusion is caused by contrast. For example, when certain colours are placed adjacent to others, they can look like completely new shades! Other illusions come from the fact that human brains always want to complete patterns. When it looks like there should be a continuation of a pattern – but there isn’t – your brain will fill it in to make it look complete!
Why it matters
For the most part, illusions are just for fun. However, some have practical uses in medicine and psychology. For example, illusions can be used to generate feeling in limbs that aren’t there, leading to development in research for amputees. In psychology, illusions can be used to give researchers insight into how the brain works. For example, one experiment – called the ‘visual cliff’ – placed a clear sheet of acrylic glass over a drop in the floor of several feet. Researchers had infants crawl on the sheet, wondering if they would avoid the drop-off because it looks unsafe, or if they would instead feel the floor and crawl across. The results varied depending on the infant’s age and other factors.
A Canadian connection
The first psychology lab in Canada was established at the University of Toronto in the late 1800s. There, a researcher named August Kirschmann developed a colour wheel that has a really interesting effect when spun. This wheel was used by researchers to study the principles of colour and how it is perceived, especially how mixed blends of colour create different visual effects.
Check out the Crazy Kitchen+ exhibit at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Discover how your senses and brain can fool you, changing the way you interpret your environment.
Make your own thaumatrope. The thaumatrope has been tricking our eyes since the 1800s. With this toy, you can make two drawings on separate papers merge into one!
In this program, students will explore the phenomena of light and geometric optics, including reflection, refraction, diffusion, focus, the convergence and divergence of light, the transmission of light, and shadows. In groups, they will experiment with various tools and materials to create a complex path for a beam of light. They will also work with other groups to build an optical chain reaction that passes beams of light from one group’s apparatus to another.
|Grade 10||Science and Technology –
Physics: Light and Geometric Optics
|Secondary Cycle 2||Science and Technology –
Material World: Waves
Please see the following document for more detailed curriculum links:
Make name tags to help the museum educator build rapport with students. Students may bring a lunch or purchase one from the museum’s café.
Teachers may preview the museum free of charge at any time, by presenting proof of their teaching status at the admission desk.
Consider familiarizing your group with our site with these tips to help plan your visit or by downloading a PDF document and PowerPoint presentation available below.
$9 per student.
Includes Museum admission.
A minimum fee of $135 will be charged per group.