Ray Diagrams
Light, Sound and Waves

Things you'll need to decide on as you plan: Modelling Light with Ray Diagrams

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

Bringing together two sets of constraints

Learners: Distinguishing–eliciting–connecting

How to:

  • separate rays (the theoretical constructs) from beams (the physical)
  • connect the predictions of ray models back to phenomena
  • motivate the move from the phenomena to a ray model

Teacher Tip: These are all related to findings about children's ideas from research. The teaching activities will provide some suggestions. So will colleagues, near and far.

Focusing on the physics:

Representing–noticing–recording. How to:

  • exemplify the construction of ray models for particular purposes
  • introduce the selection of rays
  • establish the conventions for ray models
  • identify the simplifications made in constructing a ray model
  • put the ray model to use

Teacher Tip: Connecting what is experienced with what is written and drawn is essential to making sense of the connections between the theoretical world of physics and the lived-in world of the children. Don't forget to exemplify this action.

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