Light, Sound and Waves

Things that happen to light

Physics Narrative for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

Propagation: transmission; absorption; reflection; refraction modelled by rays

Light propagates from a source. As it travels, there are several characteristic patterns which are named phenomena.

  • reflection – at a surface
  • absorption – in the body of a material
  • refraction – on entry or exit from a material

These paths can be predicted by drawing rays (although the diagram for absorption is not very instructive). The simple patterns formed by the rays can be used to think about the design of more complex optical devices, such as prisms and lenses.

is formalised by Law of Reflection
can be exhibited by Progressive Wave
has the special case Total Internal Reflection
2023 IOP Awards

Teachers of Physics Awards

Recognising and celebrating outstanding contributions to the field of physics education.

Learn more