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Anticipating and Developing the Question List

September 13, 2011

Yesterday, I had student groups think again about the questions we have about light and the puzzles that we have uncovered. We didn’t have time to talk about them as a whole class. On Wednesday, Id’d like to aggregate all our questions. I’m doing my best to anticipate the range of questions that will arise, and also trying to add in some questions of my own that stem from what they have wondered about or have made contact with:

Why did some of us see a “dark spot” in the middle of the the bullseye but others saw a bright spot in the middle of the bullseye?

Why does the circle of light on the wall get bigger and dimmer the further we hold it from the wall?

Is it a circle on the wall because of something the mirror is doing or because of the circular shape of the flashlight end?

When objects are visible, is it because they soak in the light or because light bounces off them? What could we do to help us decide?

If we concentrate bright light enough (in a really dark space) will we see the light going by or does it have to hit something like dust, moisture, smoke?

Is “reflected” light always dimmer than direct light? Does it depend on material?

Does light “reflect” off mirrors differently than a white piece of paper or a black piece of paper? [Can we come up with rules that describe what the light might be doing in each case?]

What are the mirrors really doing inside the flashlight? What would the light look like from the flashlight without the mirror?

What happens when you adjust the adjustor piece on the maglite?

Can we come up with rules for drawing the paths taken by light to predict what shape will appear when light goes through different shape or sized holes?

Does light really travel in straight lines? Or does it expand to fill space? Or does it leak and spill? What could we do to help us decide?

How (and why) is the pattern of light different from a flashlight vs. a candle, bulb, or latern?

Is the path(s) taken by light distinct or is it fuzzy?

What happens when light hit moistures, dust, or smoke that allows you to see the beam? Does this “enhance” the beam or do you not see the “beam” just see the objects illuminated?

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