Review Light-5

You have probably seen patterns of light like this in a pool of water. What causes it?

  1. Absorption

    No. If the light was being absorbed, the pattern would be dark instead of bright.
  2. Diffusion

    No. Diffusion is the scattering of light as it is reflected in many different directions. Diffusion would make the entire area brighter, not a specific pattern.
  3. Reflection

    No. While the light has to reflect back to your eye for you to see it, reflection does not cause this pattern.
  4. Refraction

    Yes! Refraction bends light. Waves and ripples on the surface of the water act just like the curved surface of a lens. This bends the light into patterns that have shapes similar to the ripples on the water's surface.

Click to see which state standards this question tests, and which of my videos, experiments, and other resources support that topic.


SC.3.P.10.3 Demonstrate that light travels in a straight line until it strikes an object or travels from one medium to another.

SC.3.P.10.4 Demonstrate that light can be reflected, refracted, and absorbed.

SC.7.P.10.2 Observe and explain that light can be reflected, refracted, and/or absorbed.


UT.8.IV.1.b Compare the transfer of energy (i.e., sound, light, earthquake waves, heat) through various mediums.


1-PS4-3 Plan and conduct an investigation to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.

MS-PS4-2 Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.