April 25, 2017

Behind the Lens: The Science Behind Photography

The thought of being on camera never crossed my mind when I decided to pursue my career in education. I’m very comfortable teaching math concepts, utilizing the latest technology tools in the classroom, and even facilitating a new lesson to a group of passionate teachers. However, taking on the challenge of being filmed for TGR EDU: Explore’s first lesson training video was definitely out of my comfort zone.

What if I kept stumbling on my lines? What if I sounded like a monotone robot? I had to overcome these challenges, as I knew this was the perfect opportunity to showcase our new STEM lesson, Digital Transmission, which explores how light waves interact with matter to create photographs from our digital cameras.

In collaboration with Discovery Education’s talented film crew, I became engaged at the very beginning by reviewing the detailed script they provided. Finding it difficult to memorize all the lines, I received great advice to speak as if I was facilitating the lesson in an actual classroom. This made perfect sense. Rarely, do we as educators memorize our lesson plans verbatim. Concepts are delivered more naturally when we can clearly visualize and articulate our expectations to students rather than reading directly from a teacher’s guide.

To join me in this training video, I recruited three of our very own TGR Learning Lab students, Areeba, Justin and Gerardo, who were all natural superstars in front of the camera. Being their first filming experience in front of bright studio lights and a professional video camera, the film crew did an amazing job making them feel at ease. Together, the students and I demonstrated three learning objectives from the Digital Transmission lesson:

  • Capturing a digital image and manipulating shutter speed
  • Describing how a digital image is created and transmitted using properties of light
  • Exploring how light waves are captured by a camera and converted to a digital image

Digital Transmission is a great lesson for secondary science teachers as well as photography teachers as it explores shutter speed and light, which are concepts utilized by cameras and other everyday tools. Not only do students learn about key Disciplinary Core Ideas from the Next Generation Science Standards, they are given the opportunity to create “trails” of light to demonstrate their understanding of shutter speed and how quickly light waves are captured by a digital camera.


After spending a full day of filming this lesson, I gained a whole new appreciation for the creative process and amount of energy that is required to capture a five-minute video production. Though I spent a considerable amount of time learning the script and endlessly repeating lines in front of the camera, I’m excited to share this training video to all educators interested in teaching an engaging lesson on light waves and digital photography.

Download the entire Digital Transmission lesson and watch the training video.

Champions of the unexpected.