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U.S. Navy Museum Cold War Gallery Lesson Plan
Making Waves: The US Military and Electromagnetic Waves
Developed by J. Paul Parker, McCants Middle School: An IB Candidate School, Anderson, SC
2012 Naval Historical Foundation STEM-H Teacher Fellowship
 
 
  Instructional Goal

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In this lesson students will research and discuss the various ways electromagnetic waves are used in the US Navy, other branches of the military, and civilian life. Each student will research to find various ways electromagnetic waves are used, identify the wavelength by name, discuss the behavior of the waves used (reflection, refraction, transmission, or absorption) and identify the different devices that utilize those waves. The different examples should demonstrate how the waves are used for combat purposes, or non-combat purposes. The students should include uses of the various wave in medicine, business, law enforcement, airport security, food preparation, recreation and other areas that affect their lives.

Background

Electromagnetic waves are waves of energy formed when an electric field couples with a magnetic field. These waves were first studied by James Clerk Maxwell and Heinrich Hertz. These waves of energy are different from mechanical waves because they can transfer energy without any medium. Electromagnetic waves are separated and identified by their wavelength, energy and frequency.

Wavelength is the distance from one wave crest to the next wave crest, or one wave trough to the next wave trough.

Frequency is defined as the number of waves that pass a given point in a specific amount of time (one second). The different waves of the electromagnetic spectrum (continuum), from the lowest frequency to the highest frequency are: radio waves, infrared waves, optical or visible light, ultraviolet waves, x-rays, and gamma waves.

Many of the various wavelengths have been further subdivided for more accurate identification (radio waves are subdivided into (VLF) very low frequency, (LF) low frequency, radio frequency, (HF) high frequency, (VHF) very high frequency, and microwaves).

All electromagnetic waves travel at the "speed of light" which is 299,792,458 meters per second, or 182,282 miles per second. Electromagnetic waves behave in four specific ways when they strike an object, they reflect off the object, they are refracted by the object, they are absorbed by the object or they transmit the particular waves.

Resources

** resources listed are not all inclusive but represent a small selection of videos, websites, and documents available for use by students with access to the internet. Resources can also be used as tools for instruction.

Anatomy of an Electromagnetic Wave - NASA's "Anatomy of an Electromagnetic Wave, a basic explanation of light waves".

Amazing Aegis BMD - From the files of the National Defense Education Program, a description of the Navy's AEGIS-Ballistic Missile Defense system and how it uses waves, one from a compilation of dozens of videos from the past two years of Webisodes. The short 4-5 minute videos show the amazing Army, Navy, and Air Force research, which is everyday work at the military research labs.

Bounce Back - From the files of the NDEP, a description of RADAR (radio detection and ranging) and how electromagnetic waves are used, one from a compilation of dozens of videos from the past two years of Webisodes. The short 4-5 minute videos show the amazing Army, Navy, and Air Force research, which is everyday work at the military research labs.

Light Antennas - From the files of the NDEP, a description making the connection between light and electricity using Luna Moth infrared wave abilities, one from a compilation of dozens of videos from the past two years of Webisodes. The short 4-5 minute videos show the amazing Army, Navy, and Air Force research, which is everyday work at the military research labs.

Light Stage - From the files of the NDEP, amazing Avatars from light waves, using spherical stages enveloped with lights and cameras, scientists bathe a subject's face in light from 6000 LEDs controlled by 60 computers , one from a compilation of dozens of videos from the past two years of Webisodes . The short 4-5 minute videos show the amazing Army, Navy, and Air Force research, which is everyday work at the military research labs.

Laser Dazzlers - From the files of the NDEP, a new light tool called “driver defeat” will slow approaching cars to determine friend or foe, one from a compilation of dozens of videos from the past two years of Webisodes. The short 4-5 minute videos show the amazing Army, Navy, and Air Force research, which is everyday work at the military research labs.

Wave Behaviors - NASA's description of light reflection, absorption, diffraction, scattering, and refraction.

Visualization: From Energy to Image - NASA’s description of how scientist’s visualize light we cannot see.

Radio Waves - NASA's description of radio waves and radio telescopes.

X-Rays - From the National Archives, how to find an x-ray from within the archived x-ray files.

Digital X-rays Save Time, Maybe Lives - From the Defense Department, how we have digitized x-rays to improve health care and save lives.

Ultraviolet Radiation Guide - The most important document to you in this list, learn from the Navy Environmental Health Center how ultraviolet waves can affect you, and how to protect yourself.

Ultraviolet Radiation Reduces Hazardous Substance Use - From the US Army Environmental Command, how UV waves can be used to reduce hazardous substances in use.

How do matter, energy, space, and time behave under the extraordinarily diverse conditions of the cosmos? - NASA describes the study of microwaves in this complex topic.

Exposure to Radiation during Military Service - Department of Veteran's Affairs description of military exposure to radiation and facts about radiation, including dangerous gamma rays.

Radar - Basics on the history of radio detection and ranging, RADAR, from NASA.

Activity #1

Instructions:

The students will work in small groups to research and collaborate on specific electromagnetic wave "types" (radio, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, x-ray, and gamma), the history of the discovery and development, and their uses in the military/industrial/commercial communities. Each group will devise a method of presentation for their group to present their findings at the designated time to all the other small groups in a whole class setting. Each group should discuss how their EM wave is used, how it affects their community, its impact on history and human development. The small group presentation can be oral, power point, graphic display, etc. Students will record various uses of electromagnetic waves in military and business communities.

Each student will research, and use information, to write an expository paper or create a team presentation, about an assigned EM wave (or all the waves if assigned as an individual assignment).
 
 

 

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