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Becky McCoy

Lesson Title: Refraction, Diffraction, & Timing: 60 minutes


Target Audience:
11th and 12th grade physics course

Students Will Be Able To:
• Explain and predict what will happen when wave fronts refract and
• Demonstrate refraction with their bodies.
• Observe and predict what will happen with wave interference.

The Teacher Will Be Able To:

• Assess student understanding of wave interactions.
• Provide opportunities for students to observe wave interactions.

Standards Assessed: New York State Standards in Physics

Physical Setting Indicator 4.3: Students can explain variations in
wavelength and frequency in terms of the source of the vibrations
that produce them, e.g., molecules, electrons, and nuclear particles.
4.3a An oscillating system produces waves. The nature of the system determines
the type of wave produced.
4.3b Waves carry energy and information without transferring mass. This energy
may be carried by pulses or periodic waves.
4.3c The model of a wave incorporates the characteristics of amplitude,
wavelength,* frequency*, period*, wave speed*, and phase.
4.3dMechanical waves require a material medium through which to travel.
4.3e Waves are categorized by the direction in which particles in a medium
vibrate about an equilibrium position relative to the direction of propagation
of the wave, such as transverse and longitudinal waves.

Misconception(s) Addressed:
• All waves travel the same way.
• Light is one or the other--a particle or a wave--only.
• Light can be a particle at one point in time and a wave at another point in time.
• Particles can't have wave properties.
• Waves can't have particle properties.
• The position of a particle always can be exactly known.
Becky McCoy

Prior Knowledge: Mechanics & Kinematics, Periodic Motion, Introductory Waves


Aim: Draw conclusions about reflection, refraction, & diffraction and make
predictions about interference.
Concept Map Vocabulary:
• Amplitude • Period • Reflection
• Crest • Frequency • Refraction
• Trough • Wave Speed • Diffraction
• Wavelength • Medium • Interference

Necessary Preparation:

• Computer
• Projector
• Slinky
• Snakey

• Have YouTube videos loaded and Phet open
Becky McCoy

Lesson Plan

Aim: Draw conclusions about reflection, refraction, & diffraction and make predictions
about interference.

Physics Push-Up: (5 minutes)

KWL Chart.

Check wave practice problem homework.

Activity: Split Class Activity (35 minutes)

• Computer
• Projector
• Slinky
• Snakey


Split into two groups using numbered cards.

Group 1
Mike using slinky/snakey to revisit Waves 2 lesson activities as well as interference.

Group 2
Show Tidal Wave video:

“This is the same idea as refraction because the velocity changes in a shallower environment.”
(NOTE: A change in velocity can mean speed or direction).

Other wave videos:

• Surfing the biggest wave:

“Let’s look at another example of refraction.” Student Refraction Walking Through the room

Phet “Wave Interference” Simulation:
• Look at the wave fronts – is the crest or trough dark or white?
• When we place a single slit, what happens?
• Double slit?
Becky McCoy

• Side view to convince students it’s a transverse wave.

• SOUND WAVES: look at the particle view to show longitudinal wave.

Activity Summary: What Did We Learn? (10 minutes)

Have students confer with their table about what they learned and a spokesperson shares with the

Listed on the portal. Due next class.

Exit Strategy:
Hand in numbered card on the way out.

Extension Activity:
Allow more time for discussion and KWL.

• Student discussions and answers.

• Homework assignment.

Students marching:
Surfing Big Wave:
Tidal Wave:

Notes & Adaptations: