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.

Spherical Mirror Reflection

Lab Summary

Use a basic optics kit to determine the radius of curvature of a concave spherical mirror.


A light source sits in front of a concave spherical mirror with an unknown radius of curvature. Using the equipment provided and relevant equations, experimentally determine the radius of curvature of the concave mirror then indicate the characteristics of the image formed by the mirror (inverted, magnification, et cetera).

  • Determine the unknown radius of curvature of the mirror using the mirror equation.
  • Show the relationship between the radius of curvature of your spherical convex mirror and the object and image formation distances.
  • Observe the magnification of the image and compare that to the calculated value for the image magnification.


Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:
♦ Assembling the optics equipment onto the optics bench and then using the movable viewing screen to locate a focused image produced by the lens.

  • Measuring the height of the image.
  • Measuring and recording the image distance si between the mirror and the screen, and the object distance so between the light source and mirror.
  • Plotting 1/si versus1/so then use a line of best fit whose y-intercept is equal to 2/R to determine R for the mirror.
  • Comparing the measured values for magnification (hi/ho) to the theoretical (–si/so).

Sensors / Equipment Used:

Basic Optics System


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

Materials Used:

Stainless Steel Calipers

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.