Home Lab 7 Refraction, Ray Tracing, and Snell`s Law
Home Lab 7
Activity 7-1: Snell’s Law
Verify Snell’s law
Cylindrical plastic rod
Parallel-sided plastic rectangular
Materials Provided by You:
1. Use transparent scotch tape to attach the plastic rod to the laser pointer so that the laser
pointer makes a horizontal laser line. Place the laser beam spreader attachment on the
2. Draw a straight line on a sheet of paper. Draw a 90o angle to the surface of the parallelsided plastic rectangular prism at some convenient location.
3. Place the plastic parallel sided rectangular prism on the sheet of paper with one side of
the prism on the line you have drawn. Trace the prism with your pencil and direct the
laser at the prism vertex of the 90o angle that you have drawn. Set the angle of incidence
*Note: The camera causes a shift in the perpendicular line due to the angle which the
picture is taken.
4. Observe the ray tracks, and mark the paper where the laser beam strikes the prism and
where the laser beam exits the prism.
5. Trace the path of the laser beam on your sheet of paper by connecting those marks.
6. Measure the angles at which the laser beam strikes the front of the prism, and the angle at
which the laser beam travels into the prism. Record the values of the angle of incidence
and the angle of refraction. Measure the angles to the nearest 1o or as close as possible.
7. Repeat the process for 20o, 30o, 40o, and 50o. Results will improve for steeper angles of
incidence. Record the data in Table 7-01. Calculate the sine of the angle in degrees and
record your values of sin θ1 and sin θ2 to 3 decimal places.
Table 7‐01 Date_______________
Snell's Law Angle of incidence Angle of Refraction θ1 θ2 sin θ1 sin θ2 n2 8. Make a plot of sin θ1 versus sin θ2 with sin θ1 on the y axis using the chart option in
Excel. Include a scale on your graph, and properly label the axis. Using the trend line
option in Excel to draw a best fit straight line to the data. Do not expect the line to exactly
go through all the data points. Cut and paste the Excel chart here.
8. Record the slope from Excel here. slope = _____________. Now calculate the slope by
hand as a check of the trend line option and record it here____________________.
9. What is value of n1, the index of refraction for medium 1, air? Record your value to three
n1 = _______________
10. Determine the value for n2 from Snell’s law, the index of refraction for medium 2 the
plastic prism for all your trials. Record the values in Table 7-01. Determine the average
value of n2.
n2 average = ______________
Compare the average value of n2 to the accepted value of the index of refraction for the plastic
| your value accepted value |
prism. Use the formula: percent difference
*100% . Comment on
the accuracy of the experiment.
Activity 7-2: Model of a Lens
To find the approximate focus of a model of a lens
Materials Provided by You:
It can be seen from the diagram below that simple geometric shapes can be used to approximate a
converging lens. Using these geometric forms, we can explore how refraction causes light to bend
through simple lenses. a. side view of converging lens, b. equilateral triangles and square shapes, c.
shapes approximating a converging lens
Red light enters and passes through a glass (n = 1.5) equilateral prism (all angles = 60º). Using Snell’s
Law (and a little geometry) determine the incident and refractive angles at points A & B, enter the
calculated angles in the table below.
Compare your results for the simple lens made of three geometric shapes and the regular converging lens.
How are they similar and different? Use Snell’s law and simple geometry to justify your answer. After
you have finished your ray diagrams above, scan or photograph this page and submit the page at the end
of this assignment in your word.doc.