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RealTime Physics Active Learning Laboratories, Module 4: Light and Optics, 3rd Edition

RealTime Physics Active Learning Laboratories, Module 4: Light and Optics, 3rd Edition

David R. Sokoloff

ISBN: 978-0-470-76888-4 January 2012 128 Pages


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RealTime Physics is a series of introductory laboratory modules that use computer data acquisition tools (microcomputer-based lab or MBL tools) to help students develop important physics concepts while acquiring vital laboratory skills. Besides data acquisition, computers are used for basic mathematical modeling, data analysis, and simulations.

There are 4 RealTime Physics modules: Module 1: Mechanics, Module 2: Heat and Thermodynamics, Module 3: Electricity and Magnetism, and Module 4: Light and Optics.

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Lab 1: Introduction to Light /1

Lab 2: Reflection and Refraction of Light /17

Lab 3: Geometrical Optics—Lenses /33

Lab 4: Geometrical Optics—Mirrors /53

Lab 5: Polarized Light /75

Lab 6: Waves of Light /91

Appendix A: RealTime Physics Light and Optics Experiment Configuration Files /107

• Completely revised throughout
• New labs: 1 replacement lab in Module 1; 50% new labs in Module 3
• All of these labs are available for customization via Wiley Custom Select. For more information on how you can tailor these experiments to fit your lab, visit
• Development of these modules has been guided by the outcomes of physics education research. Published research has documented significant learning gains through the use of Sokoloff-style labs.
• Each module contains weekly laboratory sessions that are sequenced to provide students with a coherent observational basis for understanding a single topic area in one semester or quarter of laboratory sessions.
• Each lab (approx. 2 hours each) encourages students to construct their own models of physical phenomena based on observations and experiments. Extensions have been developed to provide more in-depth coverage when longer lab periods are available.
• Each set of related activities employs a consistent learning cycle: prediction, observation, comparison, analysis, and quantitative experimentation.
• Each lab includes a pre-lab warm-up assignment, and a post-lab homework assignment that reinforces critical physics concepts and investigative skills.
• Lab activities and homework assignments are integrated so that they depend on learning that has occurred during the previous lab session and also prepare students for activities in the next session.