Lesson Plan: Emission and Absorption Spectra Physics

This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites, and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to determine the composition of a material from the features that appear in the spectrum of light coming from it.


Students will be able to

  • identify types of spectra by looking at diagrams of them: continuous spectrum, emission spectrum, and absorption spectrum,
  • identify whether an emission or absorption line is present in two different spectra,
  • identify elements in a mixture based on the spectrum of the mixture and the spectrum of the individual elements,
  • see that lines in a spectrum have widths,
  • determine the width of a spectral line by looking at a diagram of a spectrum.


Students should already be familiar with

  • the idea that light can be modeled as a wave,
  • the idea that light can have a given wavelength and frequency,
  • the idea that many objects emit light of a range of frequencies.


Students will not cover

  • calculating where spectral lines are expected to appear based on models of the atom.

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