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Rough Science 2: Communication

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Problem solving
Topic: Light

Programme 2 - clip from script opening to set the scene. ''Now your next set of challenges are going to be all about communication a vital part of any space mission, I think you'll agree.

Ellen and Mike, over a million pounds and 2 years were spent developing a space pen, a pen that could work in zero gravity. We‚re not going to give you any money at all and just 3 days to do exactly the same thing. Thank you.

Now Kathy and Jonathan - sound waves don't travel in space, but we need some sort of communication device a kind of Rough Science walkie talkie that doesn't rely purely on sound to relay a message, ok so that's your challenge…

And Iain, when NASA sent up their deep space probe, Pioneer it had a plaque on it with information about the human race for any aliens that might one day come across it, could you design a plaque with information about the Rough Science team for any aliens that might be interested. Ok, you've got 3 days, all the stuff around here and in the workshop of course and what is in the magic trunk…

This activity is a challenge requires the pupils to make a 2- D reflector of the best possible shape and direct a light beam across 1.5 metres and concentrate the light onto a detector (5x5 screen) at the focus of the receiver reflector dish.

Published: 22nd January 2005
Reviews & Comments: 1

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Energy Yr 8
Recognise that when light travels from a source it is transferring energy; use this idea to: - describe the nature and propagation of light; - explain the behaviour of light, including reflection and absorption.
Year 8 Unit 8K Light unit (and Sound unit 8L) to apply understanding of reflection to everyday situations
KS4: Physics, Waves: using waves to transmit information (higher tier) Waves from point sources Waves and curved reflectors

Running the activity

1. Use the intro part of the Rough science Programme 2 to set the scene. Or explain the scenario to the pupils

2. Explain the challenge to the pupils. They need to "assist" the Rough Scientists in producing a beam of light to carry the sound signal. This light beam could be used in darkness or deep shadow. Hence the blacked out lab situation. The idea is to shine the ray box onto the "transmitter" reflector to produce a nearly parallel beam of light. Ideally this should be a parabolic reflector - hence the clue "graph of y=x2." This beam of light is collected by the "receiver" dish, and concentrated onto a detector. The brightness of the 5x5 white card screen can then used to judge the intensity. Alternatively, the pupils themselves can use an analogue light sensor or multimeter/LDR combination.

3. Let the pupils sketch and discuss designs for 5 - 10 minutes. Remind them that they will need to produce an explanation of their solution based round an annotated diagram.

4. Let the pupils trial possible ideas. Set a time limit, 15 minutes before the end of the session, for measurement and judging. Use the same light meter for all the measurements.

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Reviews & Comments

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light communication

Nov 7th, 2007

4 Star

The "rough science" communication activity worked well on 2 levels - (1) year 9 pupils enjoyed the challenge posed in a novel way. some of the mid ability group struggled to formulate a mathematical relationship but it really stretched the others who were "chuffed" with their solutions. (2) i used the activity fully - including the weblinks and video clips with a yr 11 class. We were able to set up the laptops and use the web links to allow individual groups to go off in different directions as an add-on to the activity.
they all enjoyed the practical problem solving and yr 11 pupils managed to produce some really interesting summary presentations to the class.

Reviewer: heather west