The Electromagnetic Spectrum
Light, Sound and Waves

Familiar words in specialist use

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

Objects, media, sources – all mean something special

Wrong Track: That object over there is shining, so we can see it.

Right Lines: Light comes from the source, and bounces off the object. We see the object when the reflected light enters our eye.

Light vocabulary

Thinking about the teaching

Teaching and learning about light involves using familiar words in specialist ways. For example: source means where light comes from; object means the thing that is being looked at; medium means the background through which light travels, whether it be a vacuum, air, water, or glass.

Using these terms allows you to talk in general ways about systems involving light. For example, it doesn't matter whether you are looking at a car, a book or an elephant, you can simply refer to it as the object.

Rather than just dropping these words into your teaching it is worth drawing pupils' attention to their usage.

Teacher Tip: Make the introduction and utility of technical terms an explicit part of the learning.

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