Light, Sound and Waves

Reflection from any surface

Teaching Guidance for 5-11 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

All surfaces reflect

Wrong Track: You only get reflection of light with mirrors.

Right Lines: Reflection of light occurs at any surface, such that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection, and not just mirrors.

Starting with mirrors

Thinking about the learning

Many pupils come to associate reflection and the law of reflection of light solely with the action of plane mirrors. They are often unaware that reflection (with the angle of incidence equal to the angle of reflection) occurs when light meets any surface.

Thinking about the teaching

Start your teaching with the reflection of light from plane mirrors to establish the law of reflection, then move on to diffuse reflection from irregular surfaces. Emphasise that the law of reflection of individual rays of light applies to both regular and diffuse reflection.

is formalised by Law of Reflection
can be exhibited by Progressive Wave
has the special case Total Internal Reflection
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