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Refraction and Total Internal Reflection Laboratory Kits

By: The Flinn Staff

In the Refraction and Total Internal Reflection Optics for physical science and physics, observe how light is refracted when it travels from one medium into another. Track the path of a laser beam as its speed changes.

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Watch as a laser beam is trapped due to total internal reflection as it attempts to escape from red gelatin into air! Clearly observe how light is refracted when it travels from one medium into another! In this activity, students track the path of a laser beam as its speed changes while traveling from air into red gelatin and vice versa. The laser beam is clearly visible within the gelatin, making it very easy for students to draw accurate refraction diagrams. As the light slows down, the laser beam will move closer to the normal line on the refraction diagram. As the light speeds up, the laser beam will swing away from the normal line until it undergoes total internal reflection. By measuring the angle of incidence and angle of refraction, the speed of light in gelatin can be calculated using Snell’s Law. Kit comes complete with student worksheets, detailed Teacher Notes, and sample data. The individual kit contains gelatin, red food coloring, one refraction dish, and one laser pointer. The classroom set contains gelatin, red food coloring, eight refraction dishes, and one laser pointer. Additional laser pointers are sold separately.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS4.A: Wave Properties
HS-PS4.A: Wave Properties

Crosscutting Concepts

Patterns
Cause and effect
Scale, proportion, and quantity

Performance Expectations

MS-PS4-1: Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.
MS-PS4-2: Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
HS-PS4-2: Evaluate questions about the advantages of using digital transmission and storage of information.