The Optics Bench Interactive is an adjustable size file that displays nicely on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The compatibility with iPads and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom. The Interactive does not display well on all smart phones; The Physics Classroom does not recommend its use with all smart phones.

Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive could be used at just about any stage of a learning cycle on concave and convex mirrors. The Interactive can also be used in any unit pertaining to refraction and lenses. The Interactive excels at demonstrating how the characteristics of the image are dependent upon the location of the object. It is also quite useful in depicting the ray diagrams for object locations in front of curved mirrors. Instructors who use this simulation in their classrooms should give careful thought to the appropriate balance between hands-on lab experiences and the use of computer simulations. 

The Physics Classroom has prepared two activities for use with this Interactive:
The two activities pertain to different aspects of curved mirrors. The first is more conceptual in nature; the second is clearly mathematical-based and involves a good deal of numerical and graphical analysis. We recommend the first activity for all classrooms and suggest that the second activity be used only in classes with strong mathematical skills. 

Our Optics Bench simulation is now available with a Concept Checker that focuses on Concave Mirrors with our Curved Mirror Image Characteristics activity. Do the simulation. Then follow it up with the Concept Checker.


Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Optics Bench Interactive. These include:
  • Minds On Physics Internet Modules:
    The Minds On Physics Internet Modules include a collection of interactive questioning modules that help learners assess their understanding of physics concepts and solidify those understandings by answering questions that require higher-order thinking. Assignments RM5, RM6, RM8, and RM9 of the Reflection and Mirrors module provide great complements to this Interactive. They are best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

  • Animation: Numerous GIF Animations at The Multimedia Physics Studios
    The Ray Optics section of the Multimedia Physics Studios has several instructive animations that depict the formation of images by concave and convex mirrors. Visit the Multimedia Physics Studios.

  • Curriculum/Practice: Several Concept Development worksheets at the Curriculum Corner will be very useful in assisting students in cultivating their understanding, most notably ...

    Ray Diagrams for Concave Mirrors
    Ray Diagrams for Convex Mirrors
    Object-Image Relations

    Visit the Curriculum Corner.

  • Labwork: 
    Simulations should always support (never supplant) hands-on learning. The Laboratory section of The Physics Classroom website includes several hands-on ideas that complement this Interactive. Three notable lab ideas include ...

    Exploring Curved Mirrors
    Finding Smiley
    Magnification Ratio

    Visit The Laboratory.
  • Science Reasoning Activities:
    Science classrooms should be filled with reasoning activities. There are two related activities in the Reflection section of the Science Reasoning Center that will challenge students to employ close reading, data analysis, and logical reasoning. The activities are named ...

    Concave Mirrors
    Object-Image Relations

    Visit the Science Reasoning Center.

Additional resources and ideas for incorporating Optics Bench into an instructional unit on curved mirrors can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.



The Physics Classroom would like to extend a special thanks to Nerd Island Studios for the creation of this HTML5 Interactive for their generosity in contributing it to the Physics Interactives collection. Visit to see more great stuff by Nerd Island Studios.