Optics Lessons

Have you ever wanted to learn how light works?

This series of lessons produced by Mr. Donaldson's Optics class at Montgomery Blair High School is designed to teach you how light behaves in many different situations.

If you are new to the material, it would be best for you to read through each lesson sequentially. But the lessons are also designed to be read separately, as reference.

Snell's Law and Refraction

by Jeff Lin and Rohan Puttagunta

Learn about Snell's law and how light moves between different media.

Focal Point of a Parabolic Mirror

by Adam Detzner and Conway Xu

A proof that light rays horizontal to a parabolic mirror's axis reflect through the focus.

Reflections from Parabolic & Planar Mirrors

by Julia Huynh and Peter Gu

Explore the reflection of light off of mirrors and learn the mathematical basis for how the shape of a mirror affects reflected images.

Ray-tracing Thin Lenses

by Andie Ng and Elissa Shiao

Learn how to trace rays of light through convergent and divergent thin lenses.

Tracing Rays in Thick Lenses and Prisms

by Nader Behdin and Nils Molina

When light enters prism and lenses, it refracts and reflects. Using Snell's law and geometry, learn to trace light through these objects!


by Anand Oza and Chenyu Zhao

This introductory lesson will teach you that...

On the Bubble: Intensity and Interference

by Sanjeev Muralidharan and Stephen Carlson

Learn about how interference and partial reflection combine to give soap bubbles their unique optical properties.

The Photoelectric Effect

by Kamal Ndousse and Vikas Mendhiratta

Learn how modern physicists think about light and its interactions with electrons in metal.


by Li Ma and Wylie Conlon

Learn about the history of photography, starting with the camera obscura through modern film cameras.