Can I Believe My Eyes?
The unit begins with a contextualizing activity in which students view optical illusions that make them uncertain of what they are seeing. They spend the next several weeks investigating light waves and their interaction with matter. To do so, students engage in several scientific practices, with an emphasis on constructing and using models to explain and predict phenomena. Each new investigation causes students to realize that the model they developed to fit one situation does not fit the new one, requiring revision based on new evidence. This practice enables students to engage in modeling in ways similar to those in which scientists develop, use, and revise models they use to explain and predict real-world phenomena. Students continually delve into core science ideas, gaining a deeper understanding of how light moves through space, what happens when it meets matter, how eyes detect light, how colors of light can be perceived, and that some light is non-visible. A conceptual understanding that “light can make things happen” sets the stage for understanding energy, a crosscutting concept revisited in future IQWST units in physics, chemistry, life science, and Earth science and central to all future science learning.