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Hello folks, today I thought I'd round up some activities relating to light and shadow. 

Shadow Science

This is an activity that I always liked to run in schools just to check understanding about shadows. Many of the online activities suggested later on overlap with this, but I couldn't find anything quite the same.

First draw or print a basic shape and stick it to some cardboard - here I drew a boat directly on some card.  Children can draw shapes quite small on a page so encourage them to fill up a larger space.  Online colouring in sheets for kids are good for finding some simple shapes to print.

Simple Boat

Then decorate the shape with a mixture of coloured paper, coloured pens, and shiny paper (I used the inside of a crisp packet).  Here I cut the porthole out to make the shadow more interesting.  For older kids you might want to do something similar but add thin coloured plastic bags/file covers etc to add a bit more challenge to the predictions.

Decorated Boat

Stick a straw/pen/lolly stick/skewer to the back as a handle.

Shadow puppet picture

Then find a light souce suitable for casting shadows of the shape.  A torch, directional desk lamp, bike light are good or use sunlight through a window (make sure kids don't look directly at the sun)   For the purposes of the instructions below I'm assuming you are using a torch and casting the shadow on a wall.

Before starting to do anything ask them to predict:

1) What colour will the shadow be?

2) Will the coloured bits of the shape have a different coloured shadow?

3) What about the shiny bits?

4) What happens if you move the shape closer to the torch? How about further away?

5) What happens if you move the shape closer to the wall/further away?

Then get them to use the equipment to check their answers to the questions.  Did they get them right?

Ask them how you think you might get coloured shadows.  You could try shining the torch through different coloured plastic bags/drinks bottles etc to see.

Here is a similar activity that uses the Gruffalo's child as inspiration.  You could combine the two activities by decorating the mouse similarly to the boat above.


Shadow Theatre

After investigating the science of shadows why not build a shadow theatre like this one to use your new puppets in .  You could create intricate shadow puppets like these ones at the Pitt Rivers or for something completely different, how about these Star Wars inspired shadow puppets  


Sundials & X-Rays

Sundials and X-Rays are examples of people using shadows as a tool.   Here's an example of how to create a human sundial from the Royal Greenwich Observatory which includes measuring and graph drawing to help your maths skills. The Oxford History of Science Museum has many examples of different types of sundial in its collection.  Why not take a (virtual) look?

X-Rays, used in hospitals etc work in a similar way to normal shadows they just use a more energetic form of light that we can't normally see.  For more information have a look at this article in the Conversation and/or have a go at this quiz from CBBC to see how good you are at identifying parts of the body from X-rays.


And finally ...

As part of my research for this week's blog, I came across this Halloween 2018 Choose Your Own Adventure type story set in the Bodleian library.  Very Strange!

As ever, do let me know if you are reading this blog, send me photos if you do stuff and also send your own recommendations for activities or topics.

See you next week,