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Intensity of Waves

Intensity of Light Lab


In this activity you will be examine the connection between the intensity of light and the distance you are from the light. 

  1. Lab Setup for part 2

Procedure (Part 1):  Intensity of Sunlight in Solar System

  1. In this part of the lab you will be looking at the intensity of sun light at various locations in the solar system.

  2. This is one of the most important factors NASA must consider when deciding if powering a space craft can be done using solar energy and, if it can be powered by solar energy, this will help determine the size of the solar panels.

  3. Open the program found here and fly through the solar system, stopping at the orbit of each of the 8 planets to find the intensity of the sunlight at that location.  

  4. The size of the sun, planets and your ship have been greatly magnified to allow you to orient yourself in the solar system.  The orbital radii are to scale.

  5. Time has been sped up so that each second is one day of your mission.

  6. Tips for data collection:

    1. You must pause the program before you can collect data.

    2. Your light sensor is located at the front of your ship. So make sure that you pause your ship with the nose of the ship right on the orbit of the planet.

    3. Use your planet reference sheet to get the distance you are from the sun.

    4. Make sure that your ship is pointed directly at the sun.

  7. Don't get too close to the sun and watch out for planets.  Reckless driving will require you to restart the program.

  8. When you make a data table, have a column for planet, a column for distance from sun (in gigameters), and a column for intensity of sunlight (W/m^2).

  9. Graph your data keeping your distance in Gm.  You can use Logger Pro or MacPro.

Procedure (Part 2):  Intensity of Light from Phone

  1. Attach your Light Sensor Probe to Channel 1 of your LabQuest and set the probe to the 0-6000 setting.

  2. Open Logger Pro and then go to the experiment menu and adjust the data collection parameters so that you are collecting 1000 points per second for a time of 10 seconds.

  3. Put your probe on an ring stand pointing down.

  4. Directly under your probe put your smart phone with the flashlight shining up toward the probe.  Only turn on the light when you are about to take a reading.

  5. I suggest taping some paper to the lab table and making an outline of where to put your phone so you can turn on the flashlight and immediately place it in the proper location.

  6. Label the lab setup your drew earlier with the name of all the apparatus for this lab.

  7. Measure the distance from the flashlight to your sensor.

  8. Turn on the flash light, place it in the proper location and collect 10 seconds worth of data.  Then get an average of your 10,000 points and record that along with the distance.

  9. Repeat for ten different distances.

  10. Graph your data (put distance in m) and transfer all the important information into your lab book.

  11. Answer the questions found here.

  12. Give a few sentences of conclusion (what you learned, errors and how to correct) in your lab book.