Many students will be familiar with light being described in 'bits' and being contained to specific areas.

Light, Sound and Waves

Misconception RESEARCH REVIEW

For example, 'that bit of light'. As a consequence some students consider light as a static entity with fixed dimensions and some students may not think light travels at all. 

Resources to Address This

  • Light is travelling between source and effect (5-11)

    Ref - SPT HS01 TL01

    There is a significant job for the teacher in working with those children who think of light only in terms of a source and effect. The question of where light comes from in the first place will need to be posed and ideas of light travelling from source to effect introduced.

    View Resource
  • Travelling between source and effect (11-14)

    Ref - SPT Li01 TL03

    There is a significant job for the teacher in working with those pupils who think of light only in terms of a source and effect. The question of where light comes from in the first place will need to be posed and ideas of light travelling from source to effect introduced.

    View Resource
  • Light passing through nothing (14-16)

    Ref - SPT Ra01 TL10

    Right Lines:In fact there is nothing, no stuff, vibrating back and forwards in a light wave. The vibrations consist of changing electric and magnetic fields.

    This resource explores the idea of 'ether'.

    View Resource

References

The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Muñoz-Franco, G.; Criado, A. M. and García-Carmon, A. () Investigating Image Formation with a Camera Obscura: a Study in Initial Primary Science Teacher Education, Research in Science Education.

    Review sheet

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

    176-192.

    Review sheet

  • Ramadas, J. and Driver, R. () Aspects of secondary students' ideas about light, University of Leeds Centre for Studies in Science & Mathematics Education.

    Review sheet

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