Friday, February 5, 2010

Explore Shadow Science

Go for an evening walk with your child and I can guarantee your child will notice shadows. Watch how the streetlight casts a shadow of your image on the sidewalk. Does your shadow move with you? How can you make your shadow bigger or smaller?

Capitalizing on children's natural curiosity about shadows was one of the main goals of the original exhibit, Shadow Theater, in the Creativity Connections Neighborhood. Through the refurbished exhibit, Shadow Playground, we have created opportunities for children to use their natural curiosity for practicing scientific skills, such as observing, predicting, comparing and sharing ideas as they explore causes and effects of shadow play.

Exploring Science through Shadows
See how this child is using two flashlights to cast shadows through two types of screens. Here she has the opportunity to move light sources to observe change in shadow direction. She can compare shadows and possibly predict the light impact on distance to size ratio.

In Colored Shadows, another exhibit component in Shadow Playground, we see visitors intrigued with what they observe. Here children can observe how multiple light sources affect their shadows and how colored lights cast different colors of shadows. Some visitors have been overheard talking about what causes these multiple-colored shadows (cause and effect) and may share ideas about what they observe.

Notice how the child at the bottom of this picture is looking up. He and other visitors are building a town. The child is noticing a light above the town. When activated, the light will move and cast shadows on their buildings, trees, cars, trains or people. In Shadow Town, the angle of the light on an object affects the length of the shadow. Some of our visitors will make the association between (or compare) how the light is like the sun's path when it casts shadows throughout the day. One child was overheard asking, "Where's the moon?"

Stay tuned! In our next post we'll look at how children explore art through shadows.