Physical Science 31

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Sound and Light I

One  important difference between sound and light is that sound can only travel through a solid, liquid or gas. Sound can not travel through a vacuum. For example, sound can not travel through outer space. Light on the other hand, can travel through a vacuum. This topic explores the electromagnetic spectrum.


Day 1 – Introduction
Day 2 – Virtual Textbook


3:47 Why do mirrors flip horizontally (but not vertically)?

3:51 Nature of Light

3:55 What is Light? Maxwell and the Electromagnetic Spectrum




Visible light is only a very small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. For example, x-rays and radio waves are also on the spectrum. Some teachers introduce the entire electromagnetic spectrum all at once. Other teachers introduce concepts of visible light first – then the other parts of the spectrum.

  • Position A: The best way to learn about the electromagnetic spectrum is to introduce the entire spectrum first – then show how visible light is part of the spectrum.
  • Position B: The best way to learn about the electromagnetic spectrum is through visible light (such as a rainbow) – then introduce the other parts of the spectrum.

Instructor Resources

Standard Daily Material
  • Day 1 – Standard material – introduction day
  • Day 2 – Standard material – reading day
  • Day 3 – Standard material – make a presentation
  • Day 4 – Standard material – give a presentation
  • Extra! – Enrichment and remediation options
Other Topic Specific Resources
  • PS31 Bellringer Heat Absorption and Color.tnsp
  • PS31 Sound Waves.tns

Special Notes

Instructor Emphasis:

  • Science & Engineering Practice: Ask questions and define problems.
  • Cross-Cutting Concept: Energy and Matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation.