Sunshine, Rainbows and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Summer brings us many pleasures: a long break from school, vacations, lots of sunshine, and the occasional rainbow, all against a background of electromagnetic radiation! Despite the negative connotation “radiation” sometimes carries, it’s often more useful to us than harmful. Here are a few resources to enlighten you and your students.

Electromagnetic Spectrum
Students will enjoy the colorful illustrations accompanying the text, which vertically follow the spectrum from radio to gamma rays. Teachers will appreciate the link to related lesson plans that will reinforce the learning.

Electromagnetic Spectrum: Waves of Energy
In this lesson, students will (1) understand that the sun energy is transferred to Earth by electromagnetic waves, which are transverse waves, (2) understand that there are eight main types of electromagnetic waves, classified on the electromagnetic spectrum according to their wavelengths, and (3) understand how each of the types of electromagnetic radiation is used or found in our everyday lives. This would be a suitable activity for small groups.

Sources of Radiation
This interactive activity from the NOVA web site explores sources of radiation, both harmful and beneficial, natural and man-made.

Everyday Radiation
This video clip explains natural sources of radiation, including rocks and food.

Special Frisbees Detect Ultraviolet Light
This experiment helps students understand that ultraviolet (UV) radiation is present in natural outdoor light and that the intensity of the light varies with season and time of day. After completing this activity, students will be able to demonstrate that UV radiation can be blocked or filtered by various substances.

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/03/2012.

Exploring Careers in Engineering

Professional groups representing engineers in many fields have developed web sites to introduce middle school students to career opportunities. All of the sites described here are noteworthy for their appealing graphics, kid-friendly approach, and access to the personal stories of young engineers. The importance of math and science learning is emphasized throughout.

The Engineering AlphabetNSDL Annotation
Links to pages of information about engineering fields, from aerospace to transportation, are featured at this K-12 site, sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education. Also available from the homepage are personal stories of young engineers and resources for teachers.

Civil Engineering and MathNSDL Annotation
In response to a student question about what concepts of math and physics are used by civil engineers, Dr. Math of Math Forum gives a four-part answer. He also points out that most professionals need solid math skills in areas other than their specialty; for example, making business decisions.

Discover Engineering.org
This site introduces careers in engineering with a choice of features designed to appeal to students in middle school and up: games, links to PBS shows, profiles of young engineers, downloadables from a number of sources, and links to activities and projects. Be patient. The intro takes a few seconds, then the home page becomes visible.

Engineer Girl!
The National Academy of Engineering created this web site to acquaint young women with the opportunities for them in the engineering fields. Students can email questions to practicing engineers. A section of the web site called Celebration of Women in Engineering provides resources for parents, teachers, and other mentors to use in encouraging girls in math and science.

TryEngineering.org
Designed to be a resource for students and their parents, teachers and school counselors, this site is a portal to information about engineering and engineering careers. Teachers will find a section of lesson plans that align with education standards and apply engineering principles in the classroom. Students can ask questions of practicing engineers and undergraduate students.

We Need Your Help

We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. You can also request email notification when new content is posted (see right navigation bar).

Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We want your feedback on all of the NSDL Middle School PortalNSDL Annotation publications. Email us at msp@msteacher.org.