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
IOP DOMAINS Physics CPD programme

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