Academics, Upper School

Students Explore Light and Optics

How light and optics work and how they are perceived by the human eye were the focus of a recently completed two-month curriculum unit for 9th grade physical science students.

"We give students tools they can use to build their understanding of a concept," says Physical Science teacher Sophie Daudon. "They first become competent in how light works, and then they demonstrate that competency by expanding upon an aspect they found interesting during their learning."

Sophie and her fellow Physical Science teacher Jeremy DeWitt gave the students an expansive list of possible topics for their presentations, but allowed the students to have final say in what they wanted to research. The result was a wide variety of subjects, ranging from how corrective lenses work to why sunsets appear red to the human eye.

"One student made a little camera, and someone else showed how radios work," reveals Abbott P. '20. "It was interesting to get a lot of different in-depth expansions off of what we learned about light."

Students completed their research using a minimum of four legitimate sources, and fashioned all of the information into a five-minute presentation. The students were required to incorporate one of the concepts of light and optics learned during the unit, such as wavelengths and Rayleigh scattering.

"This project provided the opportunity for students to go deeper, and they did," says Jeremy. "The students took ownership, had the courage to get up and present, and learned in a way that felt natural to them."