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My aim is to investigate if the distance of an object from a light source affects the length of the objects shadow.

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Sc1 Coursework – Shadows



My aim is to investigate if the distance of an object from a light source affects the length of the objects shadow.

Background Scientific Information

A shadow is what is formed when some rays of light continue to travel in straight lines while other rays are stopped by an opaque object.

Shadow due to a small source of light

Shadow due to a large source of light

There are other and practical uses of shadows as well though, a sundial can be created by shadows using the height and position of the sun to created by shadows using the height and position of the sun to create a shadow which tells someone what the time is. These were used before clocks were invented.

The height and position of the light source affect the size of a shadow.

E.g. how close it is to the object.


I think that an ecliptical shadow will be formed during this experiment because we are using a solid and opaque object to test with which is a glue stick.

I think that when the position of the light source is further away from the object, the shadow will get longer this is because more rays are directly hitting the largest face of the object therefore it blocking out more light creating a longer shadow.

I think that the line graph would look similar to this:


150 W bulb

Retort stand

Metre stick

Object for creating a shadow (glue stick)

...read more.


We ensured that no unnecessary equipment or belongings could affect our experiment and were moved out of the way.

Obtaining Results (O)

I am putting my results in a table so that it is easier to spot patterns and rules.

...read more.


Accuracy of measurements

Our measurements were reasonable accurate but because the light coming through the window meant that the outline of the window was not totally clear but if it was totally dark they would be much more defined which means the results would be much more accurate. They evened out to be more accurate though because we repeated our readings 3 times. Our repeated readings were similar. The biggest difference between repeat readings was 1.5 cm, which was when the object was 35cm away. This may have been because the shadow was not clearly defined which made it difficult to measure.

Our results were accurate because there was no anomalous results which means there were nor results that didn’t fit the pattern.


We could improve our practical procedure by using more accurate measuring devices than a metre stick and therefore be able to have each result measured to 2 decimal places. We could also have improved our procedure by doing it in a different location where it was darker meaning the results would again be more accurate.

Further work

We could extend our investigation by investigating whether the height of the light source as well as the distance of the light source affects the length of the shadow.

We also could investigate the width of the shadow and how that is affected.


Modular science for GCSE textbook

Encarta CD ROM


GCSE science revision guide 2002

...read more.

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