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Lesson Plan Three – The Electromagnetic Spectrum
9, Unit E, Topic 5: What Channel is That?
in Action 9,
Unit E, Topic 3: The Spectroscope
Science in Action 9, Unit E, Topic 3.2: Using Technology to See Beyond the
Science in Action 9, Unit E,
Topic 1.2: Discovery Through Technology
*All requirements in this section are quoted directly from the new Science 9 curriculum from Alberta Learning. The full curriculum can be seen
|Technologies for space exploration and observation (Unit E)|
|Communication technologies (Unit E)|
|Forms of energy (D)|
|Describe and interpret the science of optical and radio telescopes, space probes and remote sensing technologies
|Explain the role of radio and optical telescopes in determining characteristics of stars and star systems
|Identify and correct practical problems in the way a prototype or constructed device functions (Unit D)|
|Investigate and illustrate the contributions of technological
advances-including optical telescopes, spectral analysis and space
travel-to a scientific understanding of space (Unit E)|
|Investigate and describe ways that human understanding of Earth and space has depended on technological development
|Work collaboratively on problems; and use appropriate language and formats
to communicate ideas, procedures and results (Units C, E)|
|Work collaboratively in carrying out investigations and in generating and
evaluating ideas (all Units)|
|Conduct investigations into the relationships between and among observations, and gather and record qualitative and quantitative data (all
|Analyze qualitative and quantitative data, and develop and assess possible explanations (all
Background information for teachers
and students can be found here.
of the Activity
The nature of the electromagnetic spectrum will be explored
by using AM and FM radios. Students will listen to and observe the differences between the AM
and FM bands during class time and then at night as a homework assignment.
Results will be shared the following day in class and the characteristics of the
two bands noted.
Digitally tuned AM/FM radio (provided by Sky Scan
6 AM/FM radios with internal speakers. You may need to
ask students to bring one in from home.
AM/FM radio. All students are assumed to have access to
this equipment at home.
Overhead projector or strong source of light.
The night before your class, hand out photocopies of the pages on the Electromagnetic
Spectrum as a reading assignment for that night. Check your materials list.
Demonstrate the principle of the electromagnetic spectrum
by placing a glass prism on an overhead projector. Turn the overhead on so that
a rainbow is displayed. The white light of the overhead projector bulb is bent
based on the wavelength and frequency of the various component colour bands that
make up the white light.
Ask students to discuss what they learned from their
reading on the Electromagnetic Spectrum from the previous night noting the key
concepts on a black board and relating the prism demonstration to what they read
in the article.
Break the class into 6 groups and have each group set
up an AM/FM radio. (These same 6 groups need to regroup again to do the
Meteor Detection project.)
Switch the radio on and set it to the AM band. Tune the
dial to the lowest frequency and then gradually tune the radio up the dial
to the maximum noting the changes in the sound between stations, and the
quality of the sound that is heard. Count the number of different stations.
Use the same procedure to observe the sound
characteristics of the FM band once again noting the sound quality both
between stations and when a station is on the air. Count the number of
Have the class come back together to answer the
How many stations were heard on each band?
What are the characteristics of the sound between the
stations on the AM band? On the FM band?
What are the characteristics of the sound of AM vs FM
Why do you think there were differences, if any,
between the observations of the the groups?
Do the radio listening observation at home using the
same procedure for the AM and FM bands. Note any differences in the sound
characteristics of each band. Once again, count the number of stations on
each band to report to class next day.
Telescopes and How
to Use Your FM Radio to Detect Meteors
students hand in their audio observation notes of the AM and FM band from
overnight and assess the quality of their observations, the number of
characteristics noted for each band, their description of their technique, and
any questions they have posed based on their observations.