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published by the Concord Consortium Inc.
This activity introduces students to the basic concepts of light, followed by several simulations that model the interactions of light with matter. Students investigate the wave nature of photons, view models of light/matter interactions, and explore how light energy is converted into heat energy.  They may also create their own model photon beam and generate an absorption spectrum.

This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology. The Consortium develops deeply digital learning innovations for science, mathematics, and engineering. The models are all freely accessible. Users may register for additional free access to teaching guides and capability to capture data and store student work products.

SEE RELATED ITEMS for a link to the full Molecular Logic database.
Editor's Note: New NextGen Science Standards expand the content requirements within the topics of wave energy and electromagnetic radiation. This scaffolded resource lets learners manipulate light intensity and frequency of light to see the effects on the heating of matter. With this basic understanding, they move to the wavelike properties of photons to explore 3 ways photons interact with matter: 1) No interaction, 2) Absorption, 3) Emission. It is appropriate for introductory high school physics.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electromagnetic Radiation
= Electromagnetic Spectrum
General Physics
- Measurement/Units
= Scaling
- General
- Modern Optics
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
= Tutorial
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 license. Additional information is available.
Rights Holder:
The Concord Consortium
electromagnetic spectrum, light, optics, photon, photon absorption, photon emission, photon excitation
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created June 20, 2008 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
September 30, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
March 11, 2008

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M6. Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.
4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M6. Light acts like a wave in many ways. And waves can explain how light behaves.
  • 6-8: 4F/M8. There are a great variety of electromagnetic waves: radio waves, microwaves, infrared waves, visible light, ultraviolet rays, X-rays, and gamma rays. These wavelengths vary from radio waves, the longest, to gamma rays, the shortest.
  • 9-12: 4F/H6c. The energy of waves (like any form of energy) can be changed into other forms of energy.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
11C. Constancy and Change
  • 9-12: 11C/H12. Even though a system may appear to be unchanging when viewed macroscopically, there is continual activity of the molecules in the system.
11D. Scale
  • 6-8: 11D/M3. Natural phenomena often involve sizes, durations, and speeds that are extremely small or extremely large. These phenomena may be difficult to appreciate because they involve magnitudes far outside human experience.

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Key Ideas and Details (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11—CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Common Core State Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6—12

Text Types and Purposes (6-12)
  • 2. Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (WHST.11-12.2)
Research to Build and Present Knowledge (6-12)
  • WHST.11-12.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Nature and Behavior of Light
Unit Title: The Wave Nature of Light

Students often think of "light" only as that which the human eye can perceive.  This excellent resource introduces students to the entire electromagnetic spectrum (which,  of course, includes visible light.)  Students view models of photon emission/absorption, create a model photon beam, and interactively explore how light intensity is related to the frequency of light.

Link to Unit:
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AIP Format
(Concord Consortium Inc., Concord, 2008), WWW Document, (http://molo.concord.org/database/activities/283.html).
Concord Consortium: Light and Matter Interactions, (Concord Consortium Inc., Concord, 2008), <http://molo.concord.org/database/activities/283.html>.
APA Format
Concord Consortium: Light and Matter Interactions. (2008, March 11). Retrieved August 12, 2020, from Concord Consortium Inc.: http://molo.concord.org/database/activities/283.html
Chicago Format
Concord Consortium Inc.. Concord Consortium: Light and Matter Interactions. Concord: Concord Consortium Inc., March 11, 2008. http://molo.concord.org/database/activities/283.html (accessed 12 August 2020).
MLA Format
Concord Consortium: Light and Matter Interactions. Concord: Concord Consortium Inc., 2008. 11 Mar. 2008. 12 Aug. 2020 <http://molo.concord.org/database/activities/283.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Concord Consortium: Light and Matter Interactions}, Publisher = {Concord Consortium Inc.}, Volume = {2020}, Number = {12 August 2020}, Month = {March 11, 2008}, Year = {2008} }
Refer Export Format

%T Concord Consortium: Light and Matter Interactions
%D March 11, 2008
%I Concord Consortium Inc.
%C Concord
%U http://molo.concord.org/database/activities/283.html
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D March 11, 2008
%T Concord Consortium: Light and Matter Interactions
%I Concord Consortium Inc.
%V 2020
%N 12 August 2020
%8 March 11, 2008
%9 text/html
%U http://molo.concord.org/database/activities/283.html

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Is Part Of MOLO: The Molecular Logic Project

This is the home page of the Molecular Logic database of materials.

relation by Caroline Hall
Covers the Same Topic As Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Hydrogen Energy Levels Lab

This simulation-based module uses an idealized Bohr model of a hydrogen atom as the framework for introducing the quantum nature of an electron's movement from one energy level to another.

relation by Caroline Hall

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