Light, Sound and Waves

Things you'll need to decide on as you plan: Reflection and Refraction

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

Bringing together two sets of constraints

Learners: Distinguishing–eliciting–connecting

How to:

  • separate reflection and refraction
  • avoid restricting the idea of reflection to shiny surfaces
  • not conflate beams with rays
  • reinforce the role of reflection in seeing
  • connect seeing to both specular and diffuse reflections
  • show where reflection and refraction occur outside the school laboratory

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:

  • use ray diagrams to account for reflections
  • use ray diagrams to account for refraction
  • distinguish between shadows and rays
  • show clear examples of the phenomena
  • introduce a wide range of surfaces from which reflection happens
  • introduce a wide range of changes of medium at which refraction happens

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.

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