Some students believe light helps, but is not necessary for vision

Light, Sound and Waves


Students sometimes believe it is possible for (all/some) people to see in pitch darkness (an idea more prevalent among city dwellers than the country) or cats to see in pitch darkness.

Resources to Address This

  • Totally in the dark! (5-11 and 11-14)

    Ref - SPT HS01 TA07 and Li01 TA01

    This activity allows pupils to enter a completely dark space, something which very few are likely to have previously experienced. Once in this light-free space they will recognise that it is impossible to see anything around them.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Fetherstonhaugh, T. and Treagust, D. F. () Students’ Understanding of Light and Its Properties: Teaching to Engender Conceptual Change. Science Education, 76 (6),


    Review sheet

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

    Review sheet

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