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Teaching a toddler —Reflection of light [FT-1]

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One of the best articles I read recently was about a technique my favourite scientist used to learn something new. It’s called the Feynman Technique.

I’ve decided to start applying it and putting it to the test regularly.

To start with, I’ll be explaining how Reflection works.

Why Reflection? Its something I’ve been doing quite a bit of over the past year haha.

So, here we go.

There’s just one catch, I have to pretend I’m explaining how reflection works to a toddler ( read the article )

I had to spend some time reworking this and reading up. This exercise was totally worth it. This is nowhere close to where it should be, but, atleast I know how little I about this now.

This is the simplest explanation in ~2000 words I could come up with. Do keep in mind that I’m explaining this to a ~5 year old.

Reflection of light

You know when you’re standing in front of a mirror and can see yourself in front of you. That’s reflection.

When you’re in front of that mirror, you’re actually seeing a slightly different version of you, one where your right hand is the mirror versions left hand and your left hand is the mirror versions right hand.

All objects in the world reflect, how well they reflect depends on how smooth their surface is and how opaque they are.

You can tell how smooth a surface is by rubbing your hand across the surface, you can tell how opaque an object is by asking yourself, “How well can I see through this object?”

Different objects in the world have different colors because they reflect that particular color back to you.

So, how does reflection work?

You see, light behaves as a wave, much like water or sound. A wave has a beginning, we call it a wavefront, and this is the first part of the wave that interacts with any object in its path.

When a light wave comes into contact with something that is both smooth and opaque (this is the best scenario, not the only scenario), it bounces off it in a direction that is the mirror image of the direction at which it hit the surface at.

Try throwing a ball at a wall from an angle, see how it bounces off it in a particular direction? It’s a bit like that.

You can see effects of reflection all around you, try looking at a mirror from a weird angle, you’ll be able to see the objects that are on the other side of that weird angle.

Even on the device you’re reading this on, you can probably see a bit of reflection of yourself coming back to you, but, since the screen is not fully opaque, you’re mostly seeing this text.

All of this is reflection.

This is the gist of reflection with some simple examples.

I haven’t gotten into the details of normal, angle of incidence etc because the principle of it all is what I’ve tried to get into here.

Would love to hear any comments/criticism/feedback, I’m just trying to improve here.

Thanks for reading