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  • Index of Refraction
Bending Light
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Explore bending of light between two media with different indices of refraction. ... More

Explore bending of light between two media with different indices of refraction. See how changing from air to water to glass changes the bending angle. Play with prisms of different shapes and make rainbows. Less

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Subject:
Engineering
Education
Physics
Material Type:
Activities and Labs
Instructional Material
Interactive
Simulations
Provider:
Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
PheT
University of Colorado Boulder
Provider Set:
iCPALMS: A Standards-based K-12 Resources and Tools Pathway
PhET Interactive Simulations
PhET Interactive Simulations
Author:
Emily Moore
Kathy Perkins
Loeblein, Trish
Moore, Emily
Noah Podolefsky
Perkins, Kathy
PhET Interactive Simulations
Podolefsky, Noah
Reid, Sam
Sam Reid
Trish Loeblein
University of Colorado at Boulder
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Bubbles and Biosensors
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Students work in groups to create soap bubbles on a smooth surface, ... More

Students work in groups to create soap bubbles on a smooth surface, recording their observations from which they formulate theories to explain what they see (color swirls on the bubble surfaces caused by refraction). Then they apply this theory to thin films in general, including porous films used in biosensors, listing factors that could change the color(s) that become visible to the naked eye, and learn how those factors can be manipulated to give information on gene detection. Finally (by experimentation or video), students see what happens when water is dropped onto the surface of a Bragg mirror. Less

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Subject:
Engineering
Life Science
Physics
Material Type:
Activities and Labs
Instructional Material
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Caleb Swartz
TeachEngineering.org
VU Bioengineering RET Program,
Less
Disappearing Crystals
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Learners experiment with water gel crystals, or sodium polyacrylate crystals, which absorb ... More

Learners experiment with water gel crystals, or sodium polyacrylate crystals, which absorb hundreds of times their weight in water. When in pure water, the water gel crystals cannot be seen. However, when learners place the crystals in solutions of Splenda and water, the crystals can be seen. Learners use this property to determine how much Splenda is in 4 different cups of water. This is one of four activities learners can complete related to PhysicsQuest 2008. Each activity gives a clue to solve a puzzle in the accompanying comic book, "Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair." Less

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Subject:
Education
Mathematics
Chemistry
Physics
Material Type:
Activities and Labs
Instructional Material
Provider:
Science and Math Informal Learning Educators (SMILE)
Provider Set:
SMILE Pathway: Science and Math Activities in One Search
Author:
American Physical Society
Less
Hot Air
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In this activity, learners set up an experiment to investigate the effects ... More

In this activity, learners set up an experiment to investigate the effects of hot air on the path of a laser beam. They observe the wandering position of the laser beam spot on the wall after the light travels through hot air rising from the candle flame. Learners produce a table of observations from both the Cool Air and Hot Air experiments, and answer questions using evidence from their experiment. Apply what learners discover in this experiment to real-life by discussing why stars "twinkle." Less

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Subject:
Engineering
Education
Life Science
Mathematics
Astronomy
Atmospheric Science
Chemistry
Physics
Material Type:
Activities and Labs
Instructional Material
Lesson Plans
Provider:
Science and Math Informal Learning Educators (SMILE)
Provider Set:
SMILE Pathway: Science and Math Activities in One Search
Author:
The University of Texas McDonald Observatory
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Lose a Glass in a Glass
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In this optics activity, learners use paint thinner to make a small ... More

In this optics activity, learners use paint thinner to make a small jar seem to disappear inside a larger jar. Use this activity to demonstrate the role of indexes of refraction in our ability to differentiate the appearance of different materials. Note: adult supervision is recommended for this activity because it involves paint thinner. Less

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Subject:
Education
Life Science
Mathematics
Chemistry
Physics
Material Type:
Activities and Labs
Instructional Material
Provider:
Science and Math Informal Learning Educators (SMILE)
Provider Set:
SMILE Pathway: Science and Math Activities in One Search
Author:
Josh Cobb
Optical Society of America
Vicki Cobb
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Quantifying Refraction
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Students learn the relevant equations for refraction (index of refraction, Snell's law) ... More

Students learn the relevant equations for refraction (index of refraction, Snell's law) and how to use them to predict the behavior of light waves in specified scenarios. After a brief review of the concept of refraction (as learned in the previous lesson), the equations along with their units and variable definitions, are introduced. Student groups work through a few example conceptual and mathematical problems and receive feedback on their work. Then students conduct the associated activity during which they practice using the equations in a problem set, examine data from a porous film like those used in biosensors, and apply the equations they learned to a hypothetical scenario involving biosensors. Less

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Subject:
Engineering
Life Science
Physics
Material Type:
Instructional Material
Lesson Plans
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Caleb Swartz
TeachEngineering.org
VU Bioengineering RET Program,
Less
See the Genes
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Through this concluding lesson and its associated activity, students experience one valuable ... More

Through this concluding lesson and its associated activity, students experience one valuable and often overlooked skill of successful scientists and engineers—communicating your work and ideas. They explore the importance of scientific communication, including the basic, essential elements of communicating new information to the public and pitfalls to avoid. In the associated activity, student groups create posters depicting their solutions to the unit's challenge question—accurate, efficient methods for detecting cancer-causing genes using optical biosensors—which includes providing a specific example with relevant equations. Students are also individually assessed on their understanding of refraction via a short quiz. This lesson and its associated activity conclude the unit and serve as the culminating Go Public phase of the Legacy Cycle, providing unit review and summative assessment. Less

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Subject:
Engineering
Life Science
Physics
Material Type:
Instructional Material
Lesson Plans
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Caleb Swartz
TeachEngineering.org
VU Bioengineering RET Program,
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Show Me the Genes
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By this point in the unit, students have learned all the necessary ... More

By this point in the unit, students have learned all the necessary information and conceptualized a design for how an optical biosensor could be used to detect a target strand of DNA associated with a cancer-causing gene as their solution to the unit's challenge question. Now student groups act as engineers again, using a poster format to communicate and prove the validity of the design. Successful posters include a description of refraction, explanations of refraction in a thin film, and the factors that can alter the interference pattern of a thin film. The posters culminate with an explanation of what is expected to be seen in a biosensing device of this type if it were coupled to a target molecule, proven with a specific example and illustrated with drawings and diagrams throughout. All the poster elements combine to prove the accuracy and viability of this method of gene detection. Together with its associated lesson, this activity functions as part of the summative assessment for this unit. Less

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Subject:
Engineering
Life Science
Physics
Material Type:
Activities and Labs
Instructional Material
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Caleb Swartz
TeachEngineering.org
VU Bioengineering RET Program,
Less
Super Gelatin
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Can gelatin (like Jell-O ŒŹ) change the speed of light? Learners investigate ... More

Can gelatin (like Jell-O ŒŹ) change the speed of light? Learners investigate the refraction properties of gelatin to calculate its index of refraction and discover that as the light travels through the gelatin, its speed and wavelength also change. This activity offers learners a challenge to find the index of refraction of an everyday, intriguing, translucent substance outside the standard listing of materials and refraction indexes. Less

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Subject:
Education
Mathematics
Algebra
Astronomy
Chemistry
Physics
Material Type:
Activities and Labs
Instructional Material
Lesson Plans
Provider:
Science and Math Informal Learning Educators (SMILE)
The University of Texas McDonald Observatory
Provider Set:
SMILE Pathway: Science and Math Activities in One Search
SMILE Pathway
Author:
The University of Texas McDonald Observatory
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Tell Me the Odds (of Cancer)
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Through four lessons and three hands-on activities, students learn the concepts of ... More

Through four lessons and three hands-on activities, students learn the concepts of refraction and interference in order to solve an engineering challenge: "In 2013, actress Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy, not because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but merely to lower her cancer risk. But what if she never inherited the gene(s) that are linked to breast cancer and endured surgery unnecessarily? Can we create a new method of assessing people's genetic risks of breast cancer that is both efficient and cost-effective?" While pursuing a solution to this challenge, students learn about some high-tech materials and delve into the properties of light, including the equations of refraction (index of refraction, Snell's law). Students ultimately propose a method to detect cancer-causing genes by applying the refraction of light in a porous film in the form of an optical biosensor. Investigating this challenge question through this unit is designed for an honors or AP level physics class, although it could be modified for conceptual physics. Less

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Subject:
Engineering
Life Science
Physics
Material Type:
Instructional Material
Unit of Study
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Caleb Swartz
TeachEngineering.org
VU Bioengineering RET Program,
Less
Vanishing Rods
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This is a quick activity/demonstration that introduces learners to the concept of ... More

This is a quick activity/demonstration that introduces learners to the concept of index of refraction. Learners place stirring rods in a jar of water and notice they can see them clearly. They will be surprised when they place the stirring rods in a jar of vegetable oil and the rods appear practically invisible! This is a dramatic demonstration that effectively illustrates how light can bend and fool the eye. Less

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Subject:
Education
Life Science
Mathematics
Chemistry
Physics
Material Type:
Activities and Labs
Instructional Material
Simulations
Provider:
Colorado State University
Science and Math Informal Learning Educators (SMILE)
Provider Set:
SMILE Pathway
SMILE Pathway: Science and Math Activities in One Search
Author:
Colorado State University
Less
What Does Light See?
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Students are introduced to the concept of refraction. After making sure they ... More

Students are introduced to the concept of refraction. After making sure they understand the concepts of diffraction and interference, students work collaboratively to explain optical phenomena that cannot be accounted for via these two mechanisms alone. Then, through the associated activity, students see first-hand how refraction can work with interference to produce color patterns, similar to how nanosensors work. Finally, students apply their knowledge of refraction to the original challenge question to generate a possible solution in the form of a biosensor. Less

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Subject:
Engineering
Life Science
Physics
Material Type:
Instructional Material
Lesson Plans
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Caleb Swartz
TeachEngineering.org
VU Bioengineering RET Program,
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When Silicon Talks
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In the first half of this two-part activity, students practice solving problems ... More

In the first half of this two-part activity, students practice solving problems involving refraction using the index of refraction and Snell's law equations; they mathematically solve for precise angles and speeds caused by refraction. In the second half of the activity, a hands-on lab, they apply the analytical skills required by the problem set to reflectance measurements of porous silicon thin films, including how reflectance measurements would change if various aspects of the film were altered. Students predict the data output in the form of reflectance measurements when samples are altered, which connects to the idea of being able to make predictions about the data output of a biosensing thin film that couples with a target molecule. Less

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Subject:
Engineering
Life Science
Physics
Material Type:
Activities and Labs
Instructional Material
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Caleb Swartz
TeachEngineering.org
VU Bioengineering RET Program,
Less
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.)310.1( tcejbus ngised enotspac eht dna )150.1 ,140.1 ,130.1( stcejbus ngised aera ... More

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