Light Box Refraction Project for Physics

Written by william vogel
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Light Box Refraction Project for Physics
Illustrate the refraction of light through a simple experiment (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Refraction is the deflection of a ray of light or energy wave as it passes from one medium to another and changes velocity. Although it sounds complicated on paper, it is a easy concept to learn about when you conduct a light refraction experiment. All you will need is a light box and some different objects and liquids to start experimenting.


Set up your light box on a level surface, such as a table. The light box is the source of your incident ray, as it is referred to in physics experiments. Prop up a piece of white paper perpendicular to the table some distance from the light box. Notice that the light travels in a straight line to the paper, uninhibited.

The optical nature of everyday objects

Collect objects from around the home, school or office to use in the experiment. It is best to pick objects that have translucent properties but may be of different materials or thickness. Objects could include prisms, empty glass jars, full water bottles or even cubes of gelatin.

Conducting the experiment

Place each object in front of the light box in the line of the incident ray and observe the bending or refraction of the light that occurs. Try implementing two or more objects into the experiment to see how sharply you can bend the light.

Analysing the results

The use of a protractor can come in handy when quantifying the refraction properties of each object by measuring the angle at which the refraction occurs. This is referred to as the index of refraction in many physics experiments.

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