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Bending Light

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PhET Interactive Simulations
University of Colorado Boulder


  • Snell's Law
  • Refraction
  • Reflection
  • Optics
  • Prisms
  • Lenses
  • Light


Explore bending of light between two media with different indices of refraction. See how changing from air to water to glass changes the bending angle. Play with prisms of different shapes and make rainbows.

Sample Learning Goals

  • Explain how light bends at the interface between two media and what determines the angle.
  • Apply Snell’s law to a laser beam incident on the interface between media.
  • Describe how the speed and wavelength of light changes in different media.
  • Describe the effect of changing wavelength on the angle of refraction.
  • Explain how a prism creates a rainbow.
Version 1.1.8