Light and Shadows - Let's Do Science Bundle

Let’s Do Science is a guide designed to assist generalist elementary teachers in executing engaging science lessons, in which students can learn the science curriculum through the process of inquiry and problem solving. The Light and Shadows- Let's Do Science Bundle contains 116 pages which include:
  • Background information for light and shadows,
  • 11 lesson/activity plans which include worksheets and additional materials (such as activity cards) to aid in lesson delivery
  • Additional information to aid in teaching science in the elementary classroom

Downloadable (1 PDF - 116 pages)

The following activities are included in this guide. The list is not prescriptive and teachers may select activities that are most appropriate for their students.

Activity Overview Resources Included Additional Resources Required



The opening lesson introduces students to Leonardo Da Vinci as an engineer, scientist, and architect, and highlights his work with light and shadows. Students will understand some of the engineering feats accomplished by Da Vinci and be introduced to key concepts for light and shadow.

Lesson plan

Leonardo Da Vinci poster

Vocabulary cards

Smartboard or projector

Chart paper and markers

Plain letter sized paper

Pencils and/or pencil crayons for each student


Sun Shadows

Students will investigate if Leonardo Da Vinci’s Hypothesis about shadows being longer in the morning and evening and shorter at noon when the sun is at its highest point of the day, was correct. Students will examine how the shadow cast by the sun and an opaque object changes over the course of a day by measuring and graphing their results.

Lesson plan

Background information with hypothesis

Half oval template with student instructions

Student worksheet and key

One rectangle eraser per group

One ruler per group

One flashlight per group


Shadow Casting

Let’s find out if Leonardo Da Vinci’s Hypothesis about the effect of light distance from an opaque object on shadow size, was correct. Students will experiment with different locations and distance for a light source and an opaque object to recreate a shadow. They will learn how to change the size and shape of the cast shadow.

Lesson plan

Background information with hypothesis

Shadow casting game instructions

Shadow casting game board

Student worksheet and key

Shadow casting game cards:
• Example card
• 3 training cards
• 12 game cards
• 3 bonus cards

One flashlight per group

Three opaque objects per group (cube, sphere and pyramid)

One white screen per group (can be created by using a textbook, folder, etc.)



Find out if Leonardo Da Vinci’s Hypothesis about seeing objects out of place under water, was correct. Students will use various shaped glass pieces as well as different media (air and water) to understand the basic principles of bending of light.

Lesson plan

Background information with hypothesis

Refraction mat

Refraction grid


Student worksheet and key

One square piece of glass per group

One convex glass per group

One concave glass per group

One glass container filled with water per group

One empty glass container per group

One flashlight per group

One white screen per group (can be created by using a textbook, folder, etc.)


Optical Devices

Let’s find out if Leonardo Da Vinci’s Hypothesis about pin-hole cameras was correct. Meanwhile, learning how it and other optical devices work. Students will learn how lenses can be used to create optical devices with different functions by examining a microscope and telescope. Students can then make their own optical devices using different lenses.

Lesson plan

Background information


Small eye chart

Large eye chart

Student worksheet and key



Convex lenses

Concave lenses


Amazing Liquid Light

Watch as light appears to bend in this optics experiment. Here, students learn that light isn’t really bending. The stream of water acts like a tube lined with mirrors on the inside (the technical name is total internal reflection) and the light is bounced back and forth, remaining within the stream of water. This mimics how a fiber optic cable works - light travels down a glass tube that is surrounded by a jacket (called cladding) which is one continuous, inward facing mirror. Since light only travels in straight lines and cables need to turn and bend, this ensures that the signal is always transmitted.

Lesson plan

Experiment outline

Student reflection worksheet

One tall glass jar with screw on lid per


One large nail

One small nail

One flashlight per group

Duct tape



Sink or container


Aim for the X

In this exploration, students will use their understanding and knowledge about light, reflection, refraction and absorption of light on different surfaces. Students will apply their knowledge by guiding a ray of light to a specific target. Lesson plan

One pair of scissors

30+ pieces of glass (glasses with different thicknesses, curves, opacity etc.) 
• Another option: including glasses  with various liquids inside of them for  light to travel through (such as pure water, salt water, etc.)

30+ mirrors with smooth and rough surfaces

One roll of red tape, or a sticker of a target

One package of modeling clay

One laser pointer or flashlight per group


My Shadow and Me

In this lesson students will use their body to create a shadow, and try to capture
an object in it. Try this at different times of the day to find out how the sun’s position effects shadow creation and when it’s easiest to capture the object.
Lesson plan

One marble per student

A tarmac area outdoors

Sunny day

Pencil and paper


Patterns in the Sky

Students will observe the sun, describe its pattern of movement through the sky, and relate it to the length of shadows created. Lesson plan

Sunny day

Pencils and paper




Light Fixture

In this STEAM lesson, students will take on the role of a design engineer in developing
a functional & creative lighting fixture for the city’s new public transit station. The project involves the iterative design of a prototype that provides a mixture of direct and indirect light for illuminating the station platform in an artistic way. Students will apply their knowledge of light manipulation elements such as lens, mirrors and materials to develop their prototype.
Lesson plan
Project instructions/rubric
Smile challenge diagram
Light are challenge diagram

Computer and Smartboard or projecting
device with internet access

Assortment of light manipulation
• Lenses - concave and convex
• Mirrors
• Refraction materials
• Prisms

General construction supplies:
• Paper, tissue paper
• Tin foil
• Cardboard
• Tape
• Scissors

Experiment: Human Sundial Long before iWatches and smart phones, people used sundials to tell the time. In this hands-on activity, students turn into a large sundial. Learn how light and shadows can be a source of information - and maybe you won’t need a watch anymore! Experiment details


Space for activity