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Changing Shadows

In this worksheet students explore the effect that changing the direction of light has upon shadows and the role that the Sun plays in forming and changing shadows as it moves throughout the day.

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:  Light

Curriculum subtopic:  Changes in Shadows

Difficulty level:  

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QUESTION 1 of 10

Me and my shadow - we go everywhere together.  Well, that'd be pretty much true, as long as there's some light to make a shadow. But what happens when there's more light or less light? What happens when the Sun moves across the sky as the day progresses? Is my shadow affected?

 

In this worksheet you'll have the chance to explore these sorts of ideas, to put your knowledge to the test and also to build on that knowledge.

 

Let's get going!

Toby noticed that the shadow of the tree in his garden was not always in the same place.

What is the best explanation for this?

sometimes it was raining

the Sun moved

the position of the Sun in the sky changed

He also noticed that the length of the tree's shadow changed during the day.

When was the shadow at its longest?

at dawn

at noon

in the afternoon

Why was the tree's shadow sometimes very long?

because the Sun was low in the sky

because the Sun was high in the sky

because the tree was covered in leaves

Toby decided to use his knowledge of shadows to make a sundial. He placed a stick in the ground and marked where its shadow fell at three different times of the day.

Look at these three pictures carefully and decide which one is the correct one: think about the length of the shadows and how the Sun appears to move across the sky.

sundial 1

sundial 2

sundial 3

Look at these three pictures of the Sun causing a shadow of the house:

 

 

Which one do you think shows the Sun in the correct place?

A

B

C

On a clear day in the summer what type of shadow will be made when the Sun is setting in the evening?

a very long shadow

a very short shadow

no shadow at all

What happens to the size of the shadow when you move an object closer to the light source?

its shadow gets bigger

its shadow gets smaller

its shadow stays the same size

  • Question 1

Toby noticed that the shadow of the tree in his garden was not always in the same place.

What is the best explanation for this?

CORRECT ANSWER
the position of the Sun in the sky changed
EDDIE SAYS
Naughty question to start off with! The reason for Toby's observation of the tree's changing shadow is that the Sun appears to move across the sky - that's because the Earth is spinning, meaning that the Sun is in a different place at different times of the day. So, the Sun doesn't move - our planet does!
  • Question 2

He also noticed that the length of the tree's shadow changed during the day.

When was the shadow at its longest?

CORRECT ANSWER
at dawn
EDDIE SAYS
The length of the shadow depends on how high the Sun is in the sky: when it's directly over the tree (noon in summer) there's a small shadow just beneath the tree. The lower the Sun is towards the horizon, the longer the shadow will be - that means that at dawn the Sun is just rising, making the longest shadows (just like at dusk, at the other end of the day).
  • Question 3

Why was the tree's shadow sometimes very long?

CORRECT ANSWER
because the Sun was low in the sky
EDDIE SAYS
If you stand in the middle of the room with the light on above you, you'll see a small shadow beneath you because the light is shining down on your head - you create the smallest shape you can. As you walk towards the wall you'll see a different shadow - that of the shape of your body. So, when the Sun is low in the sky it strikes objects from the side, where they will create the longest shadow on the ground behind them.
  • Question 4

Toby decided to use his knowledge of shadows to make a sundial. He placed a stick in the ground and marked where its shadow fell at three different times of the day.

Look at these three pictures carefully and decide which one is the correct one: think about the length of the shadows and how the Sun appears to move across the sky.

CORRECT ANSWER
sundial 1
EDDIE SAYS
Look at sundial 2: the shadows are the wrong length and only cover a small amount of the area in which the Sun would form shadows. With sundial 3 the noon-day shadow is way too long. In sundial 1 9am and 7pm shadows are longer than 12pm and are shown in the correct place compared to how the Sun appears to move across the sky.
  • Question 5

Look at these three pictures of the Sun causing a shadow of the house:

 

 

Which one do you think shows the Sun in the correct place?

CORRECT ANSWER
C
EDDIE SAYS
If A was correct the shadow would be long and positioned to the right. If B was correct there would be a long shadow to the left. In C the Sun is nearly over the house, casting a smaller shadow in front of the house.
  • Question 6

On a clear day in the summer what type of shadow will be made when the Sun is setting in the evening?

CORRECT ANSWER
a very long shadow
EDDIE SAYS
When the Sun is setting it's very low in the sky, just above the horizon. That means that when its light strikes you, there's a large patch of ground behind you that gets no light. That's causes a long shadow. If you've never seen it, try it in the summer in the morning or evening.
  • Question 7

What happens to the size of the shadow when you move an object closer to the light source?

CORRECT ANSWER
its shadow gets bigger
EDDIE SAYS
It\'s best if you go and try this: turn on a light and hold up a pencil so its shadow falls on a piece of paper that you\'re holding. Now keep the paper still and move the pencil towards the light. What happens? Its shadow gets bigger (and fuzzier, but that\'s another story!). Think about it: as you move the pencil towards the light it blocks more of the rays of light coming off the light. That means that fewer of them hit the paper, creating a bigger shadow.
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