Four optics tutorials

for high school & college students and K-12 science teachers

(online, self-study). Compiled by Jane Jackson in 2012


Consider these four online tutorials for student self-study or pre-lab homework on the particle (ray) model of light. They are by physics professor Barbara Hoeling, who since 2012 teaches at the University of Applied Sciences at Landshut in Bavaria, Germany.


Two tutorials (#1 and #3 below) are featured in the American Journal of Physics 80, #4 (April 2012), pages 334-338.  It took me about 1 hour to complete both of them together. They could form the foundation for a 5-hour end-of-year independent project for students. 


1)  Staying in Focus:  an Online Optics Tutorial on the Eye

In this tutorial, you are using the ray model of light, which describes light rays as propagating in straight lines. This is in contrast to the wave model of light ... [See my notes below.]


2)  "Reflection & Mirrors"!

... you can study how light rays are reflected from different types of mirrors: plane mirrors, spherical concave mirrors, and spherical convex mirrors. You will also learn how images are formed by mirrors, and what type of mirror you want to use for, say, your car's rear view mirror, or a make-up mirror.


3)  "Refraction & Lenses"!  [See below]


4)  "Magnifier & Microscope"

... how a magnifying glass (or magnifier for short) works. ... how a compound microscope magnifies an object, and how this widely used optical tool is assembled.



NOTES by Jane Jackson:

   TUTORIAL 1:  Staying in Focus – an Online Optics Tutorial on the Eye.

    created at Cal Poly Pomona by Barbara Hoeling, Asst. Professor of Physics until 2012.


For middle school teachers, and students in algebra-based physics courses. I found it enjoyable!

 The tutorial includes:

*  basic geometrical optics

*  how to do simple experiments with lenses

*  how lenses form images,

*  how your eye works,

*  why people need eye glasses.


13 webpages (called slides) include:

*  three short videos that demonstrate how you can do experiments with lenses

*  slides with graphics and narration explain the physics

*  interactive animations that allow you to do "virtual" experiments


"This squeezable lens in the animation is actually a model for the lens in your eye, which is surrounded by a muscle, called the ciliary muscle. ..."


She published her research results in The Physics Teacher, vol 49 (Feb. 2011).



TUTORIAL 3:  Refraction & Lenses, the main tutorial discussed in the AJP article, is for college students of algebra-based physics (or high school honors or AP-B). Most students took from 20 minutes to 1.5 hour to complete it. 


Her research on ~140 students showed that students liked it, & thought it more effective and interesting than a textbook. 75% of the students wrote that it was as useful or more useful than a face-to-face lecture.  A conceptual pretest and posttest showed much higher learning gains for students who did the tutorial than for a control group of 35 students who did not use it.