The Electromagnetic Radiation Interactive Infographic is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Interactive can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom. 


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive is a remake of a 1944 Wall Poster created by high school physics teacher Dwight Barr on behalf of the W.M. Welch Scientific Company, a scientific supply house located in Chicago, Illinois. The Wall Poster, a.k.a., "the infographic", re-entered the scientific landscape when it was rescued from a storage closet and made public by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in 2013. Learn more about the amazing story of the creation and re-emergence of this infographic on our History and Credits page.

The Interactive provides a learner with a load of information regarding the electromagnetic spectrum. Being a vintage piece of artwork, many of the items are certainly dated or even outdated. For instance, the spectrum begins with electric waves on the low frequency end and merges together both the radio and microwave regions of the spectrum into a single region - radio waves. This may make a few science teachers uneasy as the spectrum more often than not distinguishes the radio wave region from microwave region and discludes the low frequency electric waves.

Despite its age, high school science teachers will find a wealth of information in the infographic that has tremendous relevance to the courses they teach. We find great potential in its use at addressing the content associated with many of the NGSS disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) and associated performance assessments. For instance, consider the following DCIs from the Waves strand of the NGSS:

PS4: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
HS-PS4.A: Wave Properties
HS-PS4.A.1 The wavelength and frequency of a wave are related to one another by the speed of travel of the wave, which depends on the type of wave and the medium through which it is passing.
HS-PS4.A.2 Information can be digitized (e.g., a picture stored as the values of an array of pixels); in this form, it can be stored reliably in computer memory and sent over long distances as a series of wave pulses.
HS-PS4.A.3 Waves can add or cancel one another as they cross, depending on their relative phase (i.e., relative position of peaks and troughs of the waves), but they emerge unaffected by each other.
PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation
PS4.B.1 Electromagnetic radiation (e.g., radio, microwaves, light) can be modeled as a wave of changing electric and magnetic fields or as particles called photons. The wave model is useful for explaining many features of electromagnetic radiation, and the particle model explains other features.
PS4.B.2 When light or longer wavelength electromagnetic radiation is absorbed in matter, it is generally converted into thermal energy (heat). Shorter wavelength electromagnetic radiation (ultraviolet, X-rays, gamma rays) can ionize atoms and cause damage to living cells.
PS4.B.3 Photoelectric materials emit electrons when they absorb light of a high-enough frequency.
PS4.B.4 Atoms of each element emit and absorb characteristic frequencies of light. These characteristics allow identification of the presence of an element, even in microscopic quantities.

PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation
PS4.C.1 Multiple technologies based on the understanding of waves and their interactions with matter are part of everyday experiences in the modern world (e.g., medical imaging, communications, scanners) and in scientific research. They are essential tools for producing, transmitting, and capturing signals and for storing and interpreting the information contained in them.

We we have prepared a classroom-ready exercise for use with this Interactive. The exercise addresses many of the above standards and takes the form of a scavenger hunt. Students will have to search the infographic for a variety of examples of electromagnetic wave principles. Visit Scavenger Hunt.


Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Electromagnetic Spectrum Interactive. These include:
  • Minds On Physics Internet Modules:
    The Minds On Physics Internet Modules include a collection of interactive questioning modules that help learners assess their understanding of physics concepts and solidify those understandings by answering questions that require higher-order thinking. Assignment LC1 of the Light and Color module is a great complement to this Interactive. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

  • Curriculum/Practice: Several Concept Development worksheets at the Curriculum Corner will be very useful in assisting students in cultivating their understanding of color vision, most notably ...

    Light Waves and Matter
    Reflection, Transmission and Color

    Visit the Curriculum Corner.

Additional resources and ideas for incorporating the Electromagnetic Spectrum Interactive Infographic into an instructional unit on Light and Color can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.



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