Featured in PASCO’s Advanced Physics Teacher Guide

Advanced Physics Teacher Guide


This manual features over 30 College Board curriculum and AP Physics exam inspired lab activities.

Index of Refraction

Lab Summary

Use a basic optics kit to determine the index of refraction of a D-shaped acrylic lens.


Given a D-shaped acrylic lens with unknown index of refraction, experimentally determine a value for the correct index of refraction using the equipment provided and the necessary relevant equations.

  • Build a fundamental understanding of Snell's law and how it applies to objects of different index of refraction.
  • Implement linearization techniques to simply complex mathematical relationships.


Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:

  • Setting up the light source so that it is incident upon the flat surface of the acrylic D-shaped lens.
  • Rotating the lens and measuring the angle of incidence and the angle of refraction.
  • Creating a linearized graph by plotting the sine of the refracted angles versus the sine of the incident angles.
  • Using the slope of the graph to determine the index of refraction.

Sensors / Equipment Used:

Basic Optics System


A group of components designed to allow students conduct various optical experiments.

The Associated Bundle:

Advanced Physics Standard Sensor Bundle


This bundle contains the probeware needed to perform all 37 lab activities in the Advanced Physics lab manual.

Interface Required

This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.