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Light can travel in two ways: as a

wave or a particle

Light waves travel in

straight lines

Light wave type

transverse (up and down)


the high point (crest) or low point (trough) of a wave


the distance from the mid or "resting point" to a peak


The distance between identical parts of a wave


the "bouncing" of light form a shiny surface back to our eyes

Angle of Incidence

The angle at which a light wave strikes a mirror

Angle of Reflection

The angle at which a light wave leaves a mirror

The Law of Reflection

The Angle of Incidence is the same as the Angle of Reflection; when light strikes a mirror at a certain angle, it bounces off at the same angle, only reversed.


the "bending" of light when it travels from one medium to another


"see-through;" rays of light pass all the way through. An object behind this kind of medium can be clearly seen.

Transparent medium example

water, glass


transmits some light through but not all. An object behind this kind of medium will appear fuzzy or blurry.

Translucent medium example

waxed paper


does not allow any light to pass through. An object behind this kind of medium cannot be seen at all.

Opaque example

wood, metal, people


a transparent object that refracts (bends) light rays as they pass through it

Convex lens

A lens which curves outward. Light waves passing through it converge on a focal point.

Concave lens

A lens which caves in. Light waves passing through it diverge (spread apart).

An image seen through a convex lens

will be large and upright it the lens is close to it; or small and upside-down (inverted) if the lens is farther away than the focal point.

An image seen through a concave lens

appears smaller than life size, and right side up.

Visible light

the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that you can see; the colors of the rainbow


Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Violet
(the colors that make up White Light)

The color with the longest wavelength


The color with the shortest wavelength



a type of lens that can be used to refract white light and break it up into ROY G BV

Electromagnetic Spectrum Wave Types

Radio, microwave, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, X-ray, gamma ray

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