Shadow Science For Valentine's Day January 26 2010

[caption id="attachment_4541" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="By HaYoonii Photography"][/caption]

This simple science experiment accomplishes two things at once. The first is a science lesson that takes kids through the Scientific Process by studying the relationship between light and shadow. The second use is that the resulting silhouettes can be used as a Valentine's Day gift for parents and families!

Before starting this experiment, take a look at the Shadow Science Sheet and photocopy enough for students to each fill out one. The procedure has been filled in already. Instead of having students do this experiment in partners or small groups, consider doing this experiment as a whole group, choosing one student for the demonstration part of the experiment. Also, tap into your students' prior knowledge about shadows with the following questions: Where do we see shadows? What makes a shadow?

The Scientific Process

No matter how young your kids are, it's important to get them in the routine of using the Scientific Process. This can be done with individual child or in chart or poster form with the whole group. For this particular shadow experiment, the components are provided; however, when you're in the middle of the experiment, your kids might take you in a completely different direction - go with it! That's part of the fun of science.

The first component in the Scientific Process is the Question – For this experiment, it might be "If we move the light farther away from a person, what will happen to the shadow?"

Next is the Hypothesis (Best Guess), which needs to come from your kids. Prompt them with these questions: When the light is close, what will the shadow look like? Will the shadow get larger or smaller as the light moves farther away?

The Procedure is already filled out on the Shadow Science Sheet. Have the student sitting for the silhouette close his/her eyes. Move the overhead or projector close to his/her face and turn it on. What does the shadow look like? Students sketch in a box on their pages while you outline the shadow in white chalk.

Slowly move the light away from the student. What is happening to the shadow? Have kids sketch what it looks like while you sketch another outline.

Move the light away as far as possible. What happened to the shadow? Students sketch while you draw a final outline with white chalk.

Have the kids fill in the Results: When light moves farther away from a person, that person’s shadow…

And, finally, the Conclusion: When light is close to an object, what happens to the shadow? As light moves farther away, what happens to the shadow?

Making Silhouettes

Put the black paper and white chalk to good use, making a silhouette of each students' face for a wonderful gift for parents and families. To make it easier on you, involve aids or volunteers to make the outlines. Consider making it a center, outlining your students' faces in one of the stations.

After the silhouettes are cut, have your kids mount them on a nice background, putting names and the date on the back. Then your class can wrap them in tissue paper and send them home for a Valentine’s gift that will be treasured by parents and families.

This particular science lesson teaches the Scientific Process through observation of the relationship of shadow and light, while also giving your students the opportunity to create a timeless piece of artwork.