Exploring Diversity with Physics (9-12)

Diversity Beans - Exploring Diversity Through Physics Lesson Plan (Grades 9-12) 

Objective: Use physics to discuss colors and filters and relate this concept to diversity.

Materials Required: Approx. 1.5 oz of Diversity Beans per student. A prism, a light source and plastic filter sheets.


A. Discuss with the class the properties of light, including wave length, frequency, photons, wave properties (polarization), etc.

B. Discuss the primary colors and the ability to produce all other colors (except black) from combinations of the primary colors. Have the class try to list the combinations, such as red and yellow make orange, red and blue make purple, blue and yellow make green, etc. Discuss secondary colors.

C. Bring into the discussion the theory behind a color printer, explaining that all the colors produced come from three base primary colors in the printer.

D. Discuss the concept of the colors white and black. Explain that black is the absence of color/light (thus a black hole) and that white is all the colors combined.

E. Use a prism to break a beam of light into the light spectrum. Discuss the light spectrum using wavelength and frequency, explaining the bending property of light through mediums of differing density. Ask the students if they can give any other examples of prisms and the light spectrum. (If they do not come up with rainbows, ask the students about rainbows. Other examples include street lights and oil sheens on the road). Ask the students what the different mediums are that are producing the prism effect (air and water droplets).

F. Introduce the plastic filter sheets and ask the class to discuss what will happen when the sheets are used. Have the students look at a light source using various colors of filters.

G. Ask the class what will happen when combinations of filters are used. Use various combinations of filters with a light source to obtain results. Discuss the results with the class.

H. Discuss with the class the fact that filters exist in nature. Ask the class why the sky is blue? Lead a discussion on the filtering effect of the ionosphere. Also discuss why the earth is blue from space.

I. Lead a discussion on how filters change our perception of what we see. A yellow filter will make light appear yellow, but also changes the color of all the other objects. A blue object would appear to be green, etc.

J. Pass out the Diversity Beans and have the class list the colors and match up the flavors.

K. Divide the Diversity Beans into piles by color.

L. Have the class observe the beans through the plastic filter sheets and record the results. Set up a matrix showing the color of beans observed through the various filter sheets.

M. Have the class select and taste various beans. Record the flavors tasted with the colors.

N. Discuss why the beans don't taste as expected. Explain that one possible reason is that personal filters are creating expectations based on color/appearance.

O. Discuss the fact that we all observe the world through our own set of internal filters. Explain that our prejudices act as filters whenever we encounter others. Ask the class how these filters might work.

P. Lead a discussion on how stereotypes and prejudices act as filters in our daily interactions with others. Discuss the fact that diversity means that we recognize our filters and try to compensate for them. Explain that in a perfect world, we would eliminate the filters, but that we live in the real world. Discuss that diversity means we examine the filters within us and try to avoid judging others based on our filtered views. Our filters create a false appearance of others and make us prejudge incorrectly. Diversity means that we look beyond our filters, past appearances and judge others based on actions, attitudes, and behaviors.