Many students do not recognise light as an entity between a source and the effect it produces

Light, Sound and Waves


For example, young children might not make a connection between eye and object; consequently, they think that vision is ' a passage from the eye to the object'. Or, they might think that light is omnipresent and not connected to a source.

Resources to Address This

  • Seeing with light (5-11)

    Ref - SPT HS01 TA06

    Pupils will very often agree that to be able to see, light must enter the eye. However, it is possible to set up situations where this apparently firmly-fixed belief can be productively challenged, and thereby strengthened.

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  • Travelling between source and effect (11-14)

    Ref - SPT Li01 TL03

    This activity reinforces the idea that light travels from the source.

    Wrong Track:When a light is switched on the light fills the room and gets everywhere. The light is just there.

    Right Lines:Light is travelling in straight lines, in all directions, in any illuminated space. The light fills the room to the extent that it is travelling through it.

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The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Andersson, B. and Kärrqvist, C. () How Swedish pupils, aged 12‐15 years, understand light and its properties. European Journal of Science Education, 5 (4),


    DOI: 10.1080/0140528830050403.

    Review sheet

  • Osbourne, J.; Black, P.; Smith, M.; and Meadows, J. () Primary SPACE project - light, Liverpool University Press.

    Review sheet

IOP DOMAINS Physics CPD programme

Waves CPD videos

Our new set of videos gives teachers and coaches of physics a preview of the training we offer ahead of this term's live support sessions.

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