Many students believe light bounces off mirrors, but not off other objects

Light, Sound and Waves

Stories from Physics RESEARCH REVIEW

Diagnostic Resources

The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.

For more information, see the University of York BEST website.

Resources to Address This

  • Reflection of light  (5-11)

    Ref - SPT HS01 PN06

    Light beams are reflected from surfaces according to the law of reflection, which states that 'the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection'.  This activity concentrates on mirrors.

    The ideas are extended to other objects in the next activity.

    View Resource
  • Not just mirrors (11-14)

    Ref - SPT Li03PN04

    This takes the idea of reflection further and applies to objects that are not mirrors.

    View Resource


  • Wenham, E. J. and Guesne, E. () The Place of Optics in Physics Teaching - Children's Ideas about Light. New Trends in Physics Teaching, IV,


    Review sheet

  • Eaton, J., Anderson, C.W. and Smith, E.L. () Students' misconceptions interfere with learning: case studies of fifth-grade students. Research Series 128, The Institute for Research on Teaching, Michigan State University.

    Review sheet

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