In this activity, students investigate specular and diffuse reflection by looking into a dark box and shining a torch at various objects, coloured paper and a mirror.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • describe how objects can only be seen if there is a light source
  • explain that diffuse reflection is when light reflects off a rough surface and travels in all different directions
  • explain that specular reflection is when light reflects off a mirror or other shiny surface and that the angle of reflection is always the same as the angle of incidence
  • describe how different coloured objects only reflect certain colours of light
  • describe how different colours of reflected light can combine to produce new colours.

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • discussion questions
  • student handout.
    Published 5 April 2012