Light & Colour Lab is currently aimed at UK schools, KS3 (Years 7 to 9). In the future it is planned that it will incorporate elements of KS4 with topics involving Lenses.
Whole class use
Light & Colour Lab is ideal for whole class use with pupils working at PC's in a computer room or on laptops in a lab. In this situation, pupils could be all asked to work on one or two particular chapters of a section (eg. Reflection), or they could be allowed to work freely through a section (eg. Refraction) proceeding at different rates, some reaching the Further Work chapter at the end of the section. The teacher can ask to see a pupil's Start Page to see the "ticks" beside each completed chapter in order to keep a check on progress.
Since Light & Colour Lab simulates the typical experiments done in a Physics lab for the topics, Reflection, Refraction and Colour, the above "whole-class" scenario could take place before lab time (making lab time easier and more efficient) or it could take place after lab time (reinforcing ideas learnt in the lab), but it could also replace lab time!
Small group use
The software could be used with small groups of pupils. For example, in the lab, groups of pupils could rotate between a number of "real" experiments plus time to work on one or two specific chapters of Light & Colour Lab.
One sceanario might be - a group of pupils perform real experiments on the refraction of light through a rectangular block and then move to computers where they use Light & Colour Lab to work on the chapter "What causes light to be refracted". Here the objective would be to extend knowledge.
An alternative small group sceanario is for the group to perform the "real" experiment and then rotate to the computers to complete the same simulated experiment, eg. reflection of light from a plane mirror, in reality and then using the software. Here the objective would be to reinforce knowledge.
Use with individual pupils
Light & Colour Lab is ideal for use with individual students.
This could be a student who has completed tasks already set and is waiting for the rest of the class to catch up; the Further Work and Question sections of the software are particularly useful for these fast workers, but so also are the other chapters.
It could be a student who has missed a practical lesson eg refraction through a prism. The software would allow the student to quickly develop the knowledge needed to catch up with the rest of the class. It could be a student who has missed an extensive period of school and who has whole topics to catch up with. At least by using Light & Colour Lab the student could catch up with Reflection, Refraction and Colour.
One major use of Light & Colour Lab is for its simulation of "Colour".
As a former teacher of Physics I know that it is almost impossible to demonstrate that the addition of Red, Green and Blue light produces White light. At best we are able to show a yellowy shade. Light & Colour Lab does not have such limitations. Within the software, mixing R, G and B at maximum brightness WILL produce perfect white light. The point is - that using the software, the pupils can discover this and learn what they discover. No need to make excuses for poor experiments. The same is also true for the way in which the software enables a pupil to explore Dispersion of light and Colour Subtraction; colour filters and surfaces work perfectly. And perfect learning should follow.
Questions and Further Work
Each of the three sections, Reflection, Refraction and Colour, ends with two chapters, "Questions" followed by "Further Work".
The Questions chapters enable a pupil to test their knowledge and understanding of each section. A simple tick is given and a pupil can't proceed unless they answer correctly; if necessary they would have to return to an earlier chapter to revise an important detail. In a few cases, if a pupil hesitates for too long a "hint" button appears.
The Further Work chapters at the end of each section allow the teacher to unleash pupils to explore a topic more widely (in the case of Colour) or to go into a topic more deeply (in the case of Refraction and Snell's law). These chapters could be used for whole classes, small groups or speedy individuals.
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