Electromagnetic waves teaching resources

Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think about the electromagnetic spectrum (GCSE and Key Stage 3)

Electromagnetic radiation is a really great topic to teach. It’s important that students realise that EM waves are simply characterised according to their wavelength. Because all waves travel at the same speed (3.00 x 108m/s) and we know that wave speed  = frequency × wavelength, if the wavelength increases then the frequency must decrease. Going from long to short wavelength (or from low to high frequency) the groups are: radio, microwave, infrared, visible light (red to violet), ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays. The clip below describes the discovery of infrared radiation by Sir Frederick William Herschel in 1800- a beautiful example of how a simple experiment can have quite profound conclusions. Note that the pre-fix infra means below, or further on so infrared now makes sense! 


So you think you understand electromagnetic waves?

GCSE worksheet on electromagnetic waves. The first part of this worksheet is suitable to use at the beginning of the electromagnetic waves topic. The questions on the second page are much more challenging e.g. why was life restricted to the ocean before the ozone layer was formed 600 million years ago? Use these questions later on to diagnose whether knowledge of EM waves has been learnt and understood. These questions will hopefully help students to make meaning by challenging superficial thinking. (PDF)

Ozone layer

Check out NASA’s ozone hole watch site.

  1. Sound
  2. Light
  3. Electromagnetic waves