The light bulb moment

This lesson for students aged 5-7 is about lights. What if we can find new uses for visible light, beyond simply as a means to see in the dark? Can we explore the greater range of uses if light bulbs could be lighter, smaller, coloured and long lasting?


Incandescent traditional bulbs similar to that invented by the Geordie inventor Joseph Swan have been in use for well over 150 years. They have been the most prominent electrical lighting choice for all that time, producing their trademark yellow glow for generation after generation. In recent years, however, there has been significant development in the usefulness of light emitting diodes or LEDs. The benefits of this change have led to a far increasing range of uses, and flexibility of control switches such that lights are no longer solely used to provide visible light to see in the dark!


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Explore. Pupils observe, compare and contrast the features of different light bulbs. seLight bulbs can be sorted into groups according to similarities and differences. There are many obvious variables such as size, shape, colour, battery or mains. However there are scientific details to draw attention to also. What if we look inside the bulb? What if we want to make a bulb change colour? Take care but note which bulbs are hottest when switched on? Introduce the new term LED as a type of light bulb.


Learning Walk: Pupils take on the role of a light detective. Role play through the wearing of a pair of special light finding glasses create the investigators atmosphere. Identify a range of lights in settings out of the classroom Examples, computer screens, fire exit, door bells, car lights, street lights, phone screen.
Application of new learning: Show on the large screen an image of a light-scape. Pupils spot lights and think about why they are used. Note the difference between light reflections and light sources.
Extension activity: To think about how lights are switched on and off.


Reflection: A simple game to challenge pupils to apply the learning about LED and traditional light bulbs to new cotexts. Ideally in a hall or playground (large space), one side is labelled LED and one is labelled traditional. The teacher reads out a statement of a scenario and pupils run to either the LED or traditional bulb so as to represent their choice.


Lesson material

Download the full Teachers Notes

You'll also need the PowerPoint presentation

Primary resources produced by the University of Manchester's Science & Engineering Education Research and Innovation Hub

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