Unit Overview

Students solve a mystery involving waves, explore light and sound through hands-on stations, and then apply their knowledge of waves to engineer a new device to help individuals with hearing or vision impairments.

  • Lesson 1
    Lesson 1: Solve: Waves Phenomena + Light and Sound Mystery

    Solve: Waves Phenomena + Light and Sound Mystery

    Choose to solve either a live video mystery on how an illusionist tricks our eyes and how candles are mysteriously blown out or an animated mystery on how a trickster at a fair is using sound and light waves to scam an audience. By the end of The Solve, students discover that light and sound waves have specific characteristics that make them transfer energy differently. (Live Solve: 80-110 minutes; Animated Solve: 75 minutes)

  • Lesson 2
    Lesson 2: Make: Compare Light and Sound Waves

    Make: Compare Light and Sound Waves

    After going through a series of stations, students draw a visual model that compares sound waves and light waves. (160 mins)

  • Lesson 3
    Lesson 3: Engineer: Engineer a Solution for Individuals who cannot Detect Light or Sound Waves

    Engineer: Engineer a Solution for Individuals who cannot Detect Light or Sound Waves

    Students develop and design a prototype that helps the hearing-impaired detect sound vibrations and the seeing-impaired detect obstacles. (150 mins)

  • Next Generation Science Standards
    Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on describing waves with both qualitative and quantitative thinking.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include electromagnetic waves and is limited to standard repeating waves.]
    Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on both light and mechanical waves. Examples of models could include drawings, simulations, and written descriptions.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to qualitative applications pertaining to light and mechanical waves.]
    Integrate qualitative scientific and technical information to support the claim that digitized signals are a more reliable way to encode and transmit information than analog signals. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on a basic understanding that waves can be used for communication purposes. Examples could include using fiber optic cable to transmit light pulses, radio wave pulses in wifi devices, and conversion of stored binary patterns to make sound or text on a computer screen.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include binary counting. Assessment does not include the specific mechanism of any given device.]
  • Inquiry Scale
    • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
    • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
    • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.
  • Common Misconceptions
    • Learners initially think that waves move matter from the source to where the wave ends up. Emphasize that waves transport energy, not matter.
    • Students tend to believe that you can hear and see a distinct event at the same moment. Emphasize through the Solve that light waves travel faster than sound waves.
  • Vocabulary
      • Amplitude
      • Light wave
      • Lightning
      • Sound Wave
      • Thunder
      • Wavelength
      • Medium
      • Transmission
      • Absorption
      • Reflection
      • Frequency
      • Mechanical Waves
      • Refraction
      • Analog waves
      • Digital waves
  • Content Expert
    • Brian Walsh, Ph.D.
      Dept. of Mechanical Engineering Center for Space Physics Boston University
  • Leveled Reading

    * To give our users the most comprehensive science resource, Mosa Mack is piloting a partnership with RocketLit, a provider of leveled science articles.

    • The Parts of a Wave

      Light is a mysterious thing, but that doesn't mean that we can't learn about it while we ride up the crests of a wave and back down through the troughs. This article also explains how to brag to your friend about how extreme a hill is with amplitude and how far you traveled by measuring the wavelength of the light wave.

    • Light, Pass It On

      Light doesn't like to stay in one place. It is transmitted by reflection, refraction, and absorption. In this way, light always keeps moving or hands its energy off to something else.

    • Why Matter Matters

      When light hits matter, it typically scatters in different directions. Some things light can pass through, some things it cannot and some things scatter light multiple times, diffusing it.

    • Types of Light

      The light we see is just a small part of the range of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is the name for all energy that travels at the speed of light.

    • Refraction

      Light doesn't always move in a straight line nor does it travel at the same speed. Light changes direction and speed depending on the medium through which it's travelling.

    • How Records Work

      In this article, students read about how records store information in analog. They'll receive an introduction to the concepts of waves, vibration, distortion, and analog.

    • The Digital Advantage

      What makes digital technology so awesome? In this article, students read an introduction to waves, noise, binary, and the function of a transistor.

    • Music is Energy You Feel With Your Ears

      In this article students read about the form of energy that we experience as sound waves. They read about how matter can be disturbed by something that vibrates and this can cause particles to oscillate back and forth. We hear these disturbances as sound!