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Colorful Colorado

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Summary

Students will explain the relationship between wavelength and the color of light. Students will identify the colors of the visible spectrum. Students will analyze the effect of a prism on white light and describe why this occurs.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters

Objectives

  • Students will explain the relationship between wavelength and the color of light.
  • Students will identify the colors of the visible spectrum.
  • Students will analyze the effect of a prism on white light and describe why this occurs.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Art
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Grades

  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade
  • Sixth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Five
Session Length: 45-60 minutes
Total Length: 151-500 minutes

Groupings

  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of:

  • Color
  • Equal parts

Terms and Concepts

  • Obverse (front)
  • Reverse (back)
  • Light
  • Prism

Materials

  • 1 overhead projector (optional)
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the “Colorado Quarter Reverse” page
  • 1 class map of the United States
  • Copies of the following worksheets:
    • “Color Wheels”
    • “Why is the Sky Blue?”
    • “Why is the Sky Blue Rubric”
  • Copies of a text about the state of Colorado, such as:
    • America the Beautiful, Colorado by Deborah Kent
    • Colorado by Dennis Brindell Fradin
    • Colorado by Sara Bledsoe
    • Rocky Mountain National Park by David Petersen
    • Hello USA, Colorado by Sara Bledsoe
    • Celebrate the States: Colorado by Eleanor H. Ayer
  • Prisms
  • White paper
  • Flashlights
  • Markers (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet)
  • Tag board
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Rulers
  • Pencils
  • Poster paper

Preparations

  • Make copies of the following:
    • “Color Wheel” worksheet (1 per student)
    • “Why is the Sky Blue?” worksheet (1 per student)
    • “Why is the Sky Blue Rubric” (1 per student)
  • Make an overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the “Colorado Quarter Reverse” page.
  • Reserve computer lab for one session for research.
  • Locate an appropriate text about Colorado (1 copy per small group) (see examples under “Materials”).
  • Bookmark appropriate Web sites on light and color.
  • Gather the materials for the experiment.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/lessonPlans/pdf/320.pdf.

Session 1

  1. Describe the 50 State Quarters® Program for background information, if necessary, using the example of your own state, if available. Locate Colorado on a classroom map. Note its position in relation to your school’s location.
  2. Display the transparency or photocopy of the “Colorado Quarter Reverse” page. Examine the design with the students and have them identify the images and the phrase “Colorful Colorado.”
  3. Divide the class into small groups. Distribute a copy of a text on Colorado to each group. Introduce the students to the selected texts about Colorado. Explain to the students that they will work in their groups to find some pictures or phrases to explain why the governor of Colorado would have chosen the “Colorful Colorado” image for the quarter. The students will share their findings with the rest of the class.
  4. Allow time for the students to search. Allow each group to share with the class.
  5. Write the student responses on chart paper.
  6. Ask the students where color comes from. Explain that we couldn’t see color without light, and that white light contains all the colors of the rainbow.
  7. Divide the students into small groups of three or four. Explain to the students that they will be looking at how white light can be broken up into colors. Distribute a prism, a sheet of white paper, and a flashlight to each group. Darken the room if necessary. Have a student in each group hold the prism. Have another student hold the flashlight. A third student should hold up the sheet of paper. Align the flashlight, the prism, and the paper so that a rainbow shows on the white paper. Discuss with the students what is happening.
  8. After the students return the materials, have them take out their science journals or a sheet of paper. Have the students draw an illustration of what they observed and write five sentences about their observation.
  9. Collect the written observations and drawings.

Session 2

  1. Review the observations from the previous session. Explain to the students that the six main colors in the rainbow or spectrum are revealed by the prism. Ask the students to identify the colors. Lead them to mention red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Sometimes in books and other reference materials you will see a seventh color: indigo. Indigo is only added to the list to make it easier to remember the colors by combining the first letters of their names. The letters form the name “Roy G. Biv.” Review this with the students if necessary.
  2. Now that the students have split white light into colors, ask them how they might combine the different colors to make white. If the students suggest mixing paints, explain to the students or show them that mixing paints would make grey or brown, depending on the ratio of colors.
  3. Distribute tag board, pencils, scissors, markers, rulers, and one copy of the “Color Wheel” worksheet to each student. Review the directions and have the students complete the activity.
  4. As a class, discuss what happened during the color wheel experiment. Collect the sheet and materials.

Session 3

  1. Review the activity from Session 2. Review the concept that white light is made up of all the colors of the spectrum. Explain to the students that wavelength determines color. Red is the shortest wavelength and violet the longest. As you go through the colors of the spectrum, each color has a longer wavelength than the one preceding it.
  2. Explain to the students that they will be researching some information to answer a question that is related to light and color.
  3. Pair the students. Distribute the “Why Is the Sky Blue?” worksheet and the “Why is the Sky Blue Rubric.”
  4. Review the directions and the rubric with the students. Assign each pair one of the three questions. Have the students choose what presentation method they are going to use.
  5. Take the students to the computer lab and allow them time to research.

Sessions 4 and 5

  1. Allow time for the students to finish their presentations.
  2. Have the students present their projects.
  3. Collect all project-related student materials for assessment. 

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Have the students use books to find the answers to the questions.
  • Allow students to make audio or video recordings of their presentations. 

Enrichments/Extensions

  • Have pairs find the answer to more than one question.
  • Have students design a picture book on light and color using the information from the demonstrations used in this lesson.
  • Have students research more about infrared and ultraviolet light. 
  • Use the “Why is the Sky Blue Rubric” to assess student achievement of the stated objectives.
  • Review and evaluate student journal entries. 
There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Applying Knowledge to Language
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Science, Technology, and Society
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

Teachers should:

  • enable learners to identify, describe, and examine both current and historical examples of the interaction and interdependence of science, technology, and society in a variety of cultural settings
  • provide opportunities for learners to make judgments about how science and technology have transformed the physical world and human society and our understanding of time, space, place, and human-environment interactions
  • have learners analyze the way in which science and technology influence core societal values, beliefs, and attitudes and how societal attitudes influence scientific and technological endeavors
  • prompt learners to evaluate various policies proposed to deal with social changes resulting from new technologies
  • help learners to identify and interpret various perspectives about human societies and the physical world using scientific knowledge, technologies, and an understanding of ethical standards of this and other cultures
  • encourage learners to formulate strategies and develop policy proposals pertaining to science/technology-society issues

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines
  • Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum

Discipline: Science
Domain: 5-8 Content Standards
Cluster: History and Nature of Science
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Science as a human endeavor
  • Nature of science
  • History of science

Discipline: Science
Domain: K-4 Content Standards
Cluster: History and Nature of Science
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Science as a human endeavor

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes
  • Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses
  • Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories
  • Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: 5-8 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students compare multiple purposes for creating works of art
  • Students analyze contemporary and historic meanings in specific artworks through cultural and aesthetic inquiry
  • Students describe and compare a variety of individual responses to their own artworks and to artworks from various eras and cultures

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: 5-8 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of their choices
  • Students intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas

Discipline: Science
Domain: 5-8 Content Standards
Cluster: Science as Inquiry
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Ability necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Understand scientific inquiry

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: All Communication
Cluster: Instructional programs from kindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • organize and consolidate their mathematical thinking through communication 
  • communicate their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others;
  • analyze and evaluate the mathematical thinking and strategies of others; and
  • use the language of mathematics to express mathematical ideas precisely.   

Discipline: Science
Domain: K-4 Content Standards
Cluster: Science as Inquiry
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Ability necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Understand scientific inquiry

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: People, Places, and Environment
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

Teachers should:

  • Enable learners to use, interpret, and distinguish various representations of Earth such as maps, globes, and photographs, and to use appropriate geographic tools
  • Encourage learners to construct, use, and refine maps and mental maps, calculate distance, scale, area, and density, and organize information about people, places, regions, and environments in a spatial context
  • Help learners to locate, distinguish, and describe the relationships among varying regional and global patterns of physical systems such as landforms, climate, and natural resources, and explain changes in the physical systems
  • Guide learners in exploring characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface
  • Have learners describe how people create places that reflect culture, human needs, current values and ideals, and government policies
  • Provide opportunities for learners to examine, interpret, and analyze interactions of human beings and their physical environments, and to observe and analyze social and economic effects of environmental changes, both positive and negative
  • Challenge learners to consider, compare, and evaluate existing uses of resources and land in communities, regions, countries, and the world
  • Direct learners to explore ways in which Earth’s physical features have changed over time, and describe and assess ways historical events have influenced and been influenced by physical and human geographic features

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