Lighting the Night

Big Research Question: How can street lighting make people feel safe as well as reducing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions?

Lighting the Night 422

Look up at the street lights in your area. Are they newer white lights or older sodium lights? This activity was inspired by the research that has led to changes in lighting across the country. 

Students consider how the colour of lighting impacts upon pedestrian's feelings of safety and how this links with facial recongition distances.

Curriculum key words: light, colour, ray
Resource type: Lesson activity including presentation slides, student sheets, teacher notes and useful weblinks.
Ages: 11-14



How to use this resource

at the start of a topic to …
  • engage students in a real life context relating to current research
  • to find out what students already know 
  • consolidate existing understanding

at the end of a topic to…
  • assess student understanding by challenging students to apply their learning to a new context
  • to provide a contemporary example of how scientists are pushing the boundaries in understanding a subject area further
  • add depth and challenge

within a topic to …
  • enhance students’ confidence in the analysis of data by providing the opportunity to work with data types beyond those obtained in the school laboratory
  • assess student understanding of specific aspects of working with data (working scientifically by applying their understanding in a new context)

  • as an independent learning activity 

  • to promote careers in STEM and show the varied work of scientists


This resource is based on the research paper: Raynham, P and Sakswikrønning. (2003) ‘White light and facial recognition’, The Lighting Journal 68 (1): 29-33. It is available here

Thank you to Peter Raynham for permission to use the diagrams, photographs and graphs. The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Peter Raynham is a senior lecturer at the University College London (UCL) Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering.