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Hands on Virtual Physics
Online Physics Courses for Elementary and Middle School Teachers


Light Course

Electricity and Magnetism Course

Temperature and Heat Course

Teacher Comments



  The Virtual Course on Light
There are 9 units, as described below. Each unit starts with an exploration (simple qualitative investigations) of the subject of the unit, followed by two activities (more formal investigations, frequently having a quantitative component). The sections "About ..." are a few pages of text and pictures explaining the relevant scientific concepts. The final section "Discussion of ..." presents some questions for the participants to discuss. They email their discussion to the workshop instructors. In addition, many sections have an additional page "Why study (the subject of this unit)?"

Here are the activities of the workshop. Links are given to some sample pages.

  • Shadows
    Exploring shadows; Some shadows are sharp, and some are fuzzy; Making a shadow of a certain size; How tall is the flagpole?
    Why study shadows?Examples and motivation for this section
  • Spectrum
    Exploring diffraction gratings; Different kinds of lights; Making a spectroscope.
  • Color
    Exploring color;Subtracting colors; Adding colors.
  • Light beams
    Making and exploring a light beam; Color filters and diffraction gratings in a light beam;
  • Flat Mirrors
    Exploring a mirror; What path does reflected light follow? Mirrors in the light beam.
  • Refraction: Prisms and Lenses
    Exploring prisms and lenses; Prisms and lenses in a light beam; A simple microscope.
  • Curved mirrors
    Exploring curved mirrors; Curved mirrors in a light beam; An optical toy, based on a curved mirror.
  • Images
    Exploring images; Do lenses make more than one focused image? How big is an image? Discussion questions for this section
  • Light energy
    Exploring light energy; Glow-in-the-dark paper Light energy and heat energy.
  • Summary of the workshop





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Joseph P. Straley
Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506-0055
(859) 257-3197