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published by the Physics Education Technology Project
This interactive Flash simulation allows students to investigate the properties of converging lenses.  The user can change the index of refraction and control the lens curvature to see how light rays are refracted by a lens.  The focal length of the lens is also adjustable and the lens and object can be moved in two dimensions. The simulation is designed to help students understand how an image is formed by a lens and how changes to the lens curvature and radius affect the image appearance.

This item is part of a large collection of simulations freely available from the Physics Education Technology group at the University of Colorado.  Also available for free download are inquiry-based lesson plans on Geometric Optics and Power Point presentations to supplement classroom use of the simulation.  SEE RELATED ITEMS on this page for links to these additional resources.

Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
- Geometrical Optics
= Thin Lens
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Laboratory
- Assessment
- New teachers
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Free access
© 2004 PHET and University of Colorado
Additional information is available.
Light, Refraction, Vision, comvergent lens, convex lens, experiment simulation, image, interactive multimedia, lens, marginal ray, optics, principal ray, ray diagrams, real image, screen, virtual image
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 13, 2008 by Taha Mzoughi
Record Updated:
August 18, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
August 11, 2006
Other Collections:

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Nature and Behavior of Light
Unit Title: Ray Optics -- Reflection and Refraction of Light

A great follow-up simulation after doing a classroom lab on converging lenses.  Your students choose from four "objects" (pencil, star, smiley face, and arrow).  They can change the curvature of the convex lens, adjust the focal length, and move the object to get a feel for how light refracts through a converging lens.  Don't miss the step-by-step lesson and Power Point clicker questions created by a high school teacher specifically for use with this simulation (see Lesson Plans above).

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
(Physics Education Technology Project, Boulder, 2004), WWW Document, (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/geometric-optics).
PhET Simulation: Geometric Optics, (Physics Education Technology Project, Boulder, 2004), <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/geometric-optics>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Geometric Optics. (2006, August 11). Retrieved February 22, 2017, from Physics Education Technology Project: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/geometric-optics
Chicago Format
Physics Education Technology Project. PhET Simulation: Geometric Optics. Boulder: Physics Education Technology Project, August 11, 2006. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/geometric-optics (accessed 22 February 2017).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Geometric Optics. Boulder: Physics Education Technology Project, 2004. 11 Aug. 2006. 22 Feb. 2017 <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/geometric-optics>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Geometric Optics}, Publisher = {Physics Education Technology Project}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {22 February 2017}, Month = {August 11, 2006}, Year = {2004} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: Geometric Optics
%D August 11, 2006
%I Physics Education Technology Project
%C Boulder
%U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/geometric-optics
%O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D August 11, 2006
%T PhET Simulation: Geometric Optics
%I Physics Education Technology Project
%V 2017
%N 22 February 2017
%8 August 11, 2006
%9 application/flash
%U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/geometric-optics

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

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PhET Simulation: Geometric Optics:

Is Supplemented By http://phet.colorado.edu/teacher_ideas/view-contribution.php?contribution_id=42

A standards-based module created by the PhET team specifically for use in secondary classrooms with the simulation Geometric Optics.  Includes lesson plan, step-by-step student directions, and a set of "clicker" questions (with answers provided) for use in formative assessment.

relation by Caroline Hall

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