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Reflective surfaces and their uses

Explainer Video

Tutor: Jack


Reflective surfaces and their uses

In a nutshell

Light can be reflected off the surfaces of objects. Reflection is when light bounces off the surface of an object, changing its direction. Light reflected from objects allows you to see.

Light and reflective surfaces

Light can be reflected and will reflect from the objects it falls on. Reflection is when the light bounces off the surface of an object. This light then travels to your eye, which means you can see the object.

Light can only travel in straight lines. However, after light gets reflected from a surface, its direction will change. The angle at which light reflects from a surface is the same as the angle at which the light hits the surface. This is shown in the diagram below.

Science; Light; KS2 Year 3; Reflective surfaces and their uses

Uses of reflective surfaces

Objects which have different surfaces will interact with the light in different ways and therefore have different uses.

Smooth, bright, lightly-coloured and shiny materials will reflect the majority of the light that falls on them. 


Mirrors are an example of a highly reflective surface. They can be used in cars so drivers can see behind them.

Dull, dark and rough materials do not reflect the light so well, and absorb some of the light energy. 


Dark fabric can be used in black-out curtains so light doesn't enter the room through a window.

Note: Light travels very quickly in straight lines. Reflection changes the direction of the light once it interacts with a surface.

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Can light bend?

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