Sound waves, light waves, and information technology can be new and abstract concepts for many fourth grade students. We’ve gathered together some ideas for teaching the NGSS standards for Waves and their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer. We promise that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and that teaching about the properties of waves can be a lot of fun!
So, scroll on through this post. There are lots of great ideas that will help you teach your students about Wave Properties, Visible Light, Electromagnetic Radiation, and Information Technology.
In this post we:
- Explain the NGSS 4th Grade Waves and their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer Standards
- Show you our 4th Grade Science Stations
- Provide you additional, FREE lesson ideas for waves and technology including:
- Demonstrations and experiments for teaching about waves and technology
- Books to teach about waves and technology
- Videos about waves and technology you can show your students
As always, we design our Science Stations, and the information in our teaching ideas blog posts, to follow the Next Generation Science Standards.
They are the national standards for science and many states have adopted them as their state standards. The NGSS also give us a solid foundation on which to build our grade level lessons that will meet the needs of most teachers across the US.
NGSS 4th GRADE ENERGY SCIENCE STANDARDS
If teaching with the NGSS is new for you, we have a couple of great blog posts that will help you get started. How to Read the Next Generation Science Standards outlines where to start reading, interpreting, and teaching the NGSS. For 4th Grade Science, things can get a little more complicated, so we wrote Unpacking the 4th Grade Next Generation Science Standards. Give them both a look if you need help.
The ideas in this blog post align with the Next Generation Science Standards for Fourth Grade 4-PS4 Waves and their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer. This blog post covers 4-PS4-1 (Wave Properties), 4-PS4-2 (Visible Light), and 4-PS4-3 (Information Technology).
Below is a description of how each individual Performance Expectation (PE) and Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI) align and relate to each other.
4-PS4-1 Wave Properties: Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move.
Aligns with the first DCI:
- PS4.A: Wave Properties
- Waves, which are regular patterns of motion, can be made in water by disturbing the surface. When waves move across the surface of deep water, the water goes up and down in place; there is no net motion in the direction of the wave except when the water meets a beach.
- Waves of the same type can differ in amplitude (height of the wave) and wavelength (spacing between wave peaks).
4-PS4-2 Visible Light: Develop a model to describe that light reflecting from objects and entering the eye allows objects to be seen.
Aligns with the second DCI:
- PS4.A: Electromagnetic Radiation
- An object can be seen when light reflected from its surface enters the eyes
4-PS4-3 Information Technology: Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.
Aligns with the third and fourth DCIs:
- PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation
- Digitized information can be transmitted over long distances without significant degradation. High-tech devices, such as computers or cell phones, can receive and decode information—convert it from digitized form to voice—and vice versa.
- ETS1.C: Optimizing The Design Solution
- Different solutions need to be tested in order to determine which of them best solves the problem, given the criteria and the constraints.
Now that you understand the standards and the basis for these teaching ideas, let’s move on to the fun stuff!
SCIENCE STATIONS ABOUT WAVES AND TECHNOLOGY FOR 4TH GRADE
For Waves and Technology, we have three great science station bundles that cover all of the related standards. Each bundle contains eight science stations, engaging students in hands-on activities designed to bring the science of wave properties, visible light, and information technology to life. Each bundle also includes vocabulary cards to help students with core concepts.
The Wave Properties Bundle includes the following stations:
The Images and Vision Bundle includes the following stations:
The Communication through Codes and Technology Bundle includes the following stations:
This is an example of the Investigate Telescopes Science Station. In this INVESTIGATE science station, students read a passage about convex and concave mirrors and lenses and build a telescope. Different groups will construct different telescopes and compare their models. Students can answer questions about the investigation within their science journals or on the included worksheets.
ADDITIONAL LESSON IDEAS FOR TEACHING ABOUT WAVES AND TECHNOLOGY
While we have written resources for teaching about Waves and Technology, there are many more ideas that you can use in your classroom without purchasing our units and science stations. Below are ideas for demonstrations and experiments, books, and videos to enhance your science lessons.
DEMONSTRATIONS AND EXPERIMENTS FOR LEARNING ABOUT WAVES AND TECHNOLOGY
Below are several demonstrations and experiments for learning about waves and technology that your elementary students will love.
Slinkies are great toys and great teachers. With a simply slinky in their hands, students can learn a lot about the properties of waves. You can Google a lot of great examples, like this one.
SOUND YOU CAN SEE
Here’s an easy experiment that you can do to demonstrate sound waves. With only the sound of your voice (or your students’ voices), you can make sugar dance!
RINGING SPOON EXPERIMENT
The vibrating spoon on a string experiment is a classic and one that students love. It’s a great hands-on look (hear?) at sound vibrations and the properties of waves. Here is a video of how to do it.
Slinky to the rescue again! This project takes some time to set up, but it is a great way to demonstrate longitudinal waves (and to demonstrate how oscilloscopes work).
This GenerationGenius video and activity has a pretty sweet idea for building a model to simulate waves. Students will eat this up! (No, really, they probably will…so you might need extra gummy bears.)
MAKE A PINHOLE CAMERA
Pinhole cameras are a fabulous way to teach your students about light (Plus, it’s a lot of fun!) This step-by-step guide from eHow is a simple version, but one to get curious minds thinking and questioning.
SPLIT VISIBLE LIGHT INTO A RAINBOW
ROYGBIV – do you know what it means? A rainbow, of course! This simple activity is a great addition to the lessons you have teaching about the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. It’s easy to set up, and who doesn’t love rainbows? Here’s a bonus activity that also allows students to make their own rainbow – but, this one should be homework.
HOW REFLECTED LIGHT HELPS US SEE
Did you know that you can only see an object when light is reflected off of that object? This activity gets into the details to help students understand how light travels and how we use visible light to see.
How does water change the way light travels? In this activity, students learn how light moves through different mediums (air, water, etc.) and how that affects what we see.
HOMEMADE FARADAY CAGE
Electromagnetic radiation is everywhere…and we use its reliability in everyday objects like computers, cell phones, radios, and more. What if you could stop it? What if you had a superpower that allowed you to block the electromagnetic spectrum from reaching your cell phone or your radio? With this activity, you now have the power! Or, lack of power…because you’re blocking it…
BINARY CODE ALPHABET
Binary code – the basic language of our laptops, smartphones, tablets, and more. If you have students interested in coding, or if they just really like to make up secret codes, then teaching them binary code is a great place to start. This activity from ourfamilycode.com makes understanding binary code easy.
BOOKS TO TEACH ABOUT ENERGY
Read alouds are a great way to pique students’ interest in a new topic. They also help students develop vocabulary and build background knowledge. Consider building a library of books for each science topic and allow students some science reading time!
Here are a few of our favorite science books about Waves and Technology!
Part of a series of Physical Science books, Sound engages students in learning all about the properties of sound. How do sound waves move, and does that have anything to do with how we hear?
This engaging book guides students through an exploration of the properties of light, including transmission, absorption, and reflection. Students learn how the eye works and how we’ve used what we know about light to make some incredible inventions in the world today. Lots of great hands-on activities to enhance their learning experience.
With amazing and vibrantly colorful artwork and text that helps make the word of physics accessible, The Speed of Starlight is a must-have addition to your students’ reading list. The text explores concepts of physics such as sound, the speed of light, and many quantum physics subjects.
Do you know the science behind sound? Now you and your students will discover the world of sound waves, echoes, volume, and pitch. This is an awesome introduction to sound energy that students will enjoy.
All About Light and Sound is full of basic explanations of light and sound energy, written to increase students’ understanding of light and sound. Beautiful photographs enhance the text to engage the reader’s experience.
Covering the concepts of the electromagnetic spectrum, solar energy, reflection and refraction, photon particles, and light scattering, Light Waves has been called a “kid-friendly introduction to physics.” This fun book is great for elementary students from 1st to 4th grade.
Scooby-Doo and science! A silly diversion, or the perfect match? You be the judge… or we’ll make the verdict for you. Of course, this is perfect! Everyone loves Scooby, and this fun and inventive way to teach students about the properties of light is genius!
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about quantum physics, but were afraid to ask (or, maybe you just didn’t know what to ask). Students will be fascinated with the detailed, yet easy to understand, text that explains how the basics of everyday life works. Subjects include light, waves and particles, radioactivity, the electromagnetic spectrum, and much more.
This history of Satellites and how they’ve benefited our world is a fun read for students in grades 3-6 (and maybe beyond). Full of fun facts and hilarious cartoons, this book will keep readers engaged while learning all about satellites.
This graphic novel biography of inventor Samuel Morse is a great look at what drives inventors to make the incredible machines they make. Driven by necessity, Samuel Morse made the telegraph and changed communication forever.
VIDEOS ABOUT WAVES AND TECHNOLOGY
We have included videos and activities for Waves and Technology in our Science Stations. Those activities include differentiated questions and ways for students to respond to the videos.
Here are links to other great videos that your students will enjoy as they learn more about wave properties, the electromagnetic spectrum, and technology.
Better than simple videos explaining concepts, physicsclassroom.com offers interactive video simulations that engage students in the concepts they’re trying to learn like these simulations on refraction and lenses, waves and sound, light and color, and reflection and mirrors.
CANDY WAVE EXPERIMENT ON YouTube
Caution should always be used when visiting YouTube, especially for children, but there are a lot of wonderful educational videos to be found there, like this one that demonstrates the candy wave experiment we list above.
PBS is full of educational material that teachers can use to enhance their lessons, or students can explore on their own. Resources include a ton of videos, like these on Waves and Light. A bonus feature is the ability to filter the video selection to the appropriate grade level.
Fourth Grade Science Stations
We hope the information presented here is helpful to you and that you feel both empowered and inspired to bring the world of waves and technology to life for your 4th-grade class. Below is a list of our Fourth Grade Science Stations.