Mirror, Mirror

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In this activity, learners test the Law of Reflection based on experimental evidence. Learners produce raw data and explanations based on their data: pencil tracings of incident and reflection rays. Then, learners relate their knowledge of mirrors and laser to understanding how astronomical telescopes use curved mirrors to focus star light onto electronic detectors.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • pen and pencil
  • laser pointer
  • 2 binder clips
  • 1 flat back-silvered mirror, 1/4 inch thick
  • letter size (8.5 x 11 inches) graph paper
  • 1 protractor


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
      • Lasers
      • Lenses and Mirrors
      • Reflection and Refraction
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
    • Technology
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • The University of Texas McDonald Observatory


  • All rights reserved, The University of Texas McDonald Observatory, 2011