Sound, Light, Electricity, and Magnetism

  • Sound, Light, Electricity, and Magnetism


          We begin this unit by investigating static electricity. Students learn that static electricity occurs when charges build up on objects - in order to understand how this happens, students need to understand the basic structure and properties of atoms.  Once students understand how an atom can get a charge, we begin experimenting and discovering that like charges repel and un-like charges attract.  Students will learn about the three different methods that can be used to give an object a charge: friction, conduction, and induction.

         Our next topic is current electricity.  Students learn how to draw and build series and parallel circuits, and then learn practical uses for each type of circuit.

         Next we study magnetism.  Along with the basic principles of magnets, students learn how magnetism affects our everyday lives (for example, we will briefly discuss how the earth's magnetic field is responsible for the Aurora Borealis, and how it aids in the migration of animals).  We will also spend some time working with electromagnets.

         The next two topics in this unit  (sound and light) both involve energy traveling in the form of waves.  For this reason, we dedicate a brief amount of time to learning about the structures and properties of mechanical and electromagnetic waves. 

         During our exploration of sound, students will learn that sound is caused by vibrations and that sound travels in the form of a mechanical wave (which means that sound must move through matter).  Students will conduction a lab with dominoes that simulates a sound wave traveling through solids, liquids, and gases.

         When we move on to study light, we will thoroughly discuss the electromagnetic spectrum.  We will discuss properties of reflection, refraction, and absorption, and we will discuss why we are able to see certain colors.


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