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Light and Dark: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Caroline Ebeling

Caroline is a bilingual (Spanish and English) teacher and a trilingual (Spanish, English, and French) children's book author with a master's degree in bilingual education.

If you have ever wondered about the fascinating science of light, then keep reading! In this lesson, you will learn where light comes from, how it travels in waves, and what makes darkness. Without light, you wouldn't be able to read this right now!

What is Light?

''It's way past your bedtime! Lights out!'' Oh no. Mom caught you trying to stay up late again and turned off the lamp in your room. But lucky for you, she doesn't know that you keep a flashlight under your bed for times like these when you just have to read one more chapter! But as you turn on the flashlight and the room glows, you forget about reading your book and start to wonder…What is light?

Light is energy that travels in waves. When you think of waves, you might think of the ocean. Although light waves and ocean waves are both waves, they are different types. Light waves are electromagnetic waves while ocean waves are mechanical surface waves. Electromagnetic light waves are invisible to our eyes.

Light travels very quickly. Much of the light we see on Earth comes from the Sun, which is 93 million miles away. Even though the Sun is very far away, light traveling from the Sun can reach Earth in about 8 minutes! If we tried to take an airplane to the Sun, it would take about 19 years. Wow! Light is fast!

Light traveling from the Sun to Earth
Sunlight through trees

What about the light coming from your flashlight? Or your lamp? What about the light from a candle or a campfire? Where does this light come from? Like we said earlier, light is energy. Energy is how things work, move, or change. It includes the energy you use to play at the park!

Just like the energy we use to run and jump, light is a form of energy that helps us to see. The light energy in the flashlight is being powered by a battery. The lamp in your room needs to be plugged in to use electricity to get its light energy. Just remember, all light is energy, whether it comes from the Sun, a battery, an electrical outlet, a candle, or a campfire.

What is Dark?

To answer this question, we need to think about opposites. The opposite of big is little. The opposite of black is white. The opposite of light is dark! Dark means the absence of light, or that light is not there.

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