Education Technology

Polarization of Light

Published on 08/31/2010

Activity Overview

Students use data collected during a lab to explore the relationship between polarized light and light intensity.

Key Steps

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    Students investigate the effects of polarizing filters on light transmission. They place two polarizing filters in between a light source and a light level meter. Then, they rotate the filters relative to one another. Finally, they record the intensity of the transmitted light as a function of the rotational angle.

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    Students make a plot of intensity vs. angle of rotation. They study its form and make inferences about the relationship between intensity and angle.

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    Finally, students plot the function y = cos(x)2 along with their data on the graph. They modify the equation to find the best-fit curve for their data sets.

    They use this information to infer the general relationship between light intensity and the angle of rotation of the polarizing filters.