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Investigate how the angle of refraction is affected by different inputs of the angle of incidence through a glass block.

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Daniella Mayes                                                                                     10 BD - 1

Physics Investigation

I am going to investigate how the angle of refraction is affected by different inputs of the angle of incidence through a glass block.

Background Information:

When light goes from air to another transport material it slows down – only slightly, but enough to make it change direction or refract.

Refraction can be explained using wave theory. As the light waves hit the boundary with the second material, they slow down. This causes a change of direction towards the “normal” as the light waves are “bunched up” (a shorter wavelength). When light passes back out into air, the refraction is away from the normal, because the light speeds up.

Rays of light travelling from air into glass are bent or refracted towards the normal. Rays of light travelling from glass into air are refracted away from the normal. In other words the angle of refraction is less than the angle of incidence.

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Refractive index =      1

                        sine C (critical angle)


I am going to measure the angle of refracted light that is shone through a glass block. I am going to vary the angle of incidence, for example 10°, 20°, 30°etc. I will keep the same shape of glass block (rectangular) and the same material (glass). I am also going to keep the same light source (ray box) and the same distance from the ray box to the glass block. Using Snell’s law I am going to find the refractive index.


I predict that when the angle of incidence increases the refracted angle will also increase. I predict this due to the fact that because glass has a higher density than air the ray of light will be refracted away from the normal and both angles will increase. As the angle of incidence increases, so will the angle of refraction.


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The graph loosely supports my prediction, which was as you increase the angle of incidence you increase the angle of refraction. It did show this but it didn't show that as you double the angle of incidence you double the angle of refraction. It showed that when angle I is 40 degrees angle r is 19 degrees and when angle I is 80 degrees angle r is 30 degrees this means that my prediction was wrong but not totally because if you use Snell's law it works. Snell found that if you take the sine of angle I and divide it by the sine of angle r you get the refractive index which should be the same for every angle for that material, in my case, glass.

Science Investigation

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This is a well structured and well written report, although it has large gaps.
1. The graph and evaluation are missing.
2. There is a large gap in the middle of the report.
3. The sources of information need to be referenced.

Marked by teacher Luke Smithen 13/08/2013

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