Reflection in Physics Project Ideas

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Reflection is the change of direction that takes place when a wave hits a boundary. This asset contains projects that encourage students to explore and discuss reflection.

Reflection

According to the law of reflection, a wave will reflect from a surface at an angle perpendicular to the point at which is strikes. The following projects further develop your students' investigations of reflections in physics.

Mirrors

Grade level: 5th-8th grade

Time: 2 days

Key Terms:

  • angle
  • perpendicular
  • reflection

Guiding Question

  • What happens to a wave after it reflects off a surface?

Materials

  • 2 plane mirrors
  • tape
  • small plastic figurine
  • protractor

Procedure

Have students work in pairs to do the following:

  • Tape the two mirrors side by side to create a hinge between them.
  • Using the protractor, mark a piece of paper with angles of 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 180 degrees.
  • Put the mirrors on the 180-degree angle.
  • Put the plastic figurine between the two mirrors. Record observations of the reflection.
  • Change the mirrors to each of the other angles. Record how the reflection changes at each angle.
  • Discuss the reasons for the changes in reflections. Research reflections to determine the cause of the increased number of reflections.
  • Write your name on a small piece of paper and tape it to the front of the figurine. Reflect on how viewing the word changes your perspective on how images are reflected.
  • Create a diagram that explains the reflections.

Reflection Targets

Grade level: K-5th Grade

Time: 1-2 days

Key Terms:

  • perpendicular
  • reflect

Guiding Question

  • How can you predict where light will reflect?

Materials

  • construction paper circles
  • tape
  • mirror
  • flashlight
  • books about reflection of light
  • paper folded and stapled into books

Procedure

  • Tape construction paper circles around the classroom.
  • Have students attempt to flash the flashlight into the mirror so that it reflects on the target.
  • Students will discuss patterns and strategies for finding the correct angles.
  • Have students explore books about reflection of light.
  • Have students work in pairs to create picture books that describe the reflection of light.

Light Bending

Grade level: 5th-8th

Time: 2-3 days

Key Terms:

  • medium

Guiding Question

  • How does light respond when it reflects off water?

Materials

  • laser pointer
  • smooth plastic bottle
  • tape
  • computer/internet

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