Unit Overview

Students investigate how materials interact with light as they engineer nightlights that meet user preferences and communicate a message. 

  • Grade 1
  • Setting: In school
  • Science connection: Light
  • 9 lessons
  • 45 minutes per lesson

Standards alignment

We’ve developed each YES unit with careful attention to NGSS standards. YES units are also designed to integrate with the most popular elementary and middle school curricula. View Standards Alignment

Unit Map

Students are introduced to engineering by designing a model bench for people waiting at a bus stop.

Students read a story about two cousins who share a room but prefer different amounts of light when they sleep. They explore a dark box to learn that objects can only be seen if they are illuminated by light.

Students explore transparent, translucent, and opaque materials to learn about the ways materials interact with light.

Students test the materials they may use in their nightlights to determine how much light they let through.
Students independently imagine ideas for their nightlights. They work with a partner to plan one nightlight design.
Students create their nightlights and test how well their designs let the desired amount of light through.
Students identify aspects of their nightlights to improve. They make adjustments and test their improved designs.
Students learn ways to communicate using light and create a school reminder for their nightlights.
Students share their designs with their peers and reflect on their engineering work.

Teacher Preparation Videos

Yazmin’s Bedroom

Opaque Box

Nightlight Base

Videos for Students

Attach Materials to the Nightlight Base

Attach a School Reminder

Nightlight icon

What’s Included?

  • Teacher Guide (PDF)
  • Teacher Slides (Google Slides)
  • Student Engineering Notebook (PDF)
  • Illustrated Story (Google Slides or PDF)
  • Print Materials (PDF)