In this subunit it is assumed that students have studied basic trigonometry and are familiar with graphing data. The activities introduce students to the following concepts and ideas:

  • An image is formed in a plane mirror and this image is located on the opposite side of the mirror to the observer
  • Snell’s Law describes how the direction of light changes as it passes from one medium to another
  • At a particular angle, light will be reflected from an interface rather than transmitted as it passes from a high refractive index material to a low refractive index material
  • When light travels from some medium to air, comparing the actual position or width of an object to its apparent position or width allows one to determine the refractive index of the medium
  • The position and magnification of the image created by a lens depends on the focal length and the distance of the object to the lens
  • Light can be polarised, and the intensity of light through two polarisers can be described by Malus’s Law
  • Light can be diffracted by small objects and the width of the diffraction pattern depends on the size of the objects
  • Different wavelengths of light can be scattered by varying amounts