Some students consider darkness as important a concept as light e.g. shadows can exist on their own.

Light, Sound and Waves


Children may devise their own theories related to this; to make sense of why you only see shadows in the light e.g. shadows hide inside objects, until light pushes it away from the object on to the wall or ground.

Resources to Address This

  • Introducing light sources and shadows (5-11)

    Ref - SPT HS01 TA08

    This activity focuses on the idea that light travels in straight lines and this behaviour causes shadows.

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  • Teaching story - campsite shadows (11-14)

    Ref- SPT Li01 TL04

    Using a personal story to talk about shadows and their formation.

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  • Shadows and rays on a screen (11-16)

    Ref - Practical Physics; Light & Optics; Intro to rays and images

    Shadows form on a screen when objects interrupt the light from a lamp.  Show that the shadow changes as the distances between lamp, object and screen change.

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  • Galili, I. and Hazan, A. () Learners' knowledge in optics: interpretation,structure and analysis. International Journal of Science Education, ISSN: 0950-0693 (Print) 1464-528.

    Review sheet

  • Feher, E. and Rice, K. Shadows and Anti-Images: Children’s Conceptions of Light and Vision II. Science Education, 72 (5),


    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

IOP DOMAINS Physics CPD programme

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Our first collection 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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