Physics - Secondary V Optional Program

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Geometric optics

Studying geometric optics gives students the opportunity to acquire scientific and technical knowledge of phenomena and applications1 involving the deviation of light rays.

Over the course of their secondary school education, students have explored increasingly complex phenomena, problems and applications. They have acquired knowledge related to The Material World, The Living World, The Earth and Space and the Technological World. By using the experimental method, modelling and carrying out analysis, they are able to describe, understand and explain the laws and models governing the behaviour of light rays. Students learn to apply this new knowledge in a variety of contexts to explain phenomena or make predictions. In this way, they acquire a better understanding of how the paths followed by light rays affect the way we see the world around us and of the related applications.

Student constructs knowledge with teacher guidance.

Student applies knowledge by the end of the school year.


Student reinvests knowledge.



3 4 3 4 5
Secondary Cycle One
    1. Light
        • Describes properties of light (propagation in a straight line, diffuse reflection by surfaces)
        • Explains different phenomena using the properties of light (cycles of day and night, seasons, phases of the Moon, eclipses)
Secondary Cycle Two
Only those concepts specific to the Physics program are identified by a number.
Light blue shading indicates that the student acquired this knowledge in Secondary III or IV.
    1. Deviation of light waves
        • Describes how light rays are deviated by a plane reflective surface
        • Determines the angle of reflection of a light ray on the surface of a plane mirror
        • Describes how light rays are deviated when they pass through the surface of a translucent convex or concave surface
  1. Snell’s Laws (Reflection)
    1. Incident and reflected rays
      1. Defines a light ray as a theoretical structure indicating the direction of the propagation of light
      1. Identifies incident rays and reflected rays in a diagram or an actual2 situation
      1. Distinguishes diffuse reflection from specular reflection in various situations
    1. Angle of incidence and reflection
      1. Measures the angles of incidence and angles of reflection in a diagram or an experiment
      1. Explains qualitatively and quantitatively a phenomenon using the Law of Reflection (e.g. minimum height a mirror must have in order for a person to see the full length of his/her body, extent of a field of vision)
    1. Focal point of a lens
        • Determines the focal point of concave and convex lenses
        • Describes the relationship between the focal point of a lens and the degree of deviation of light rays in different situations (e.g. accommodation of the crystalline lens, choice of corrective lenses)
    1. Sensory receptors (Eye)
        • Names the parts of the eye involved in vision (iris, cornea, crystalline lens, retina)
        • Describes the function of the main parts of the eye
  1. Snell’s Law (Refraction)
    1. Incident and refracted rays
      1. Identifies incident rays and refracted rays in a diagram or an actual situation
    1. Angle of incidence and refraction
      1. Measures the angles of incidence and the angles of refraction in a diagram or an experiment
    1. Index of refraction
      1. Defines the index of refraction of a medium as the ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum to the speed of light in that medium (n = c/v)
      1. Determines, in experiments or mathematically, the indices of refraction of various media
      1. Explains qualitatively and quantitatively a phenomenon using the Law of Refraction (n1sinΘ1= n2sinΘ2) (e.g. a straw in a glass of water)
      1. Explains the phenomenon of total internal reflection (e.g. mirage, fibre optics)
  1. Images
    1. Type of image
      1. Explains the distinction between a real image and a virtual image
    1. Image characteristics
      1. Determines the characteristics of the image formed in a given situation (mirrors and lenses)
      1. Applies the mathematical relationships that make it possible to determine the position, orientation and height of an object or its image in the case of mirrors or lenses
        (M = hi/ho = -di/do ; 1/do + 1/di = 1/f)
1.  “Application” is understood to mean a technical object, a system, a product or a process.
2. This should be limited to cases involving plane or spherical mirrors.

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