Visible Light
Light, Sound and Waves

Thinking about actions to take: Colours of Two Kinds

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

There's a good chance you could improve your teaching if you were to:

Try these

  • separating perceptual and spectral colours
  • introducing and exploiting a simple account of colour vision
  • introducing filtering colours as a process of removing certain frequencies
  • preferring frequency to wavelength
  • explaining in detail, on several occasions, why something appears the colour that it does
  • bringing to mind the psychological aspects of colour perception, perhaps by showing a few well chosen illusions

Teacher Tip: Work through the Physics Narrative to find these lines of thinking worked out and then look in the Teaching Approaches for some examples of activities.

Avoid these

  • conflating adding and removing frequencies
  • subtracting colours
  • trying to explain the rainbow, for most classes
  • reducing the complex processes of colour perception to simple physical principles

Teacher Tip: These difficulties are distilled from: the research findings; the practice of well-connected teachers with expertise; issues intrinsic to representing the physics well.

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