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Age Range: 11-14 | 14-16
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • D&T
  • Physics

Electromagnetic Radiation

Annotating a diagram to show what types of electromagnetic radiation can penetrate the atmosphere

In this activity students will learn about the visible/infrared window and a microwave/short wave radio window. It should be preceded by our Wireless activity.

This is one of a set of resources developed to aid the class teaching of the secondary national curriculum, particularly KS3. It has been designed to support the delivery of key topics within design and technology (DT) and science.

Activity: Annotating a diagram to show what types of electromagnetic radiation can penetrate the atmosphere

This activity will help students to understand why some signals, like Wi-Fi, can reach a person in a basement while others, such as mobile phone signals, might be blocked.

Students will work through our Getting through handout, firstly labelling an electromagnetic radiation and atmosphere diagram. They will then complete the table and answer a series of  questions relating to atmospheric effects on different types of radiation.

Download our activity overview for a lesson plan on electromagnetic radiation.

The engineering context

An understanding of electromagnetic radiation is vital for many engineering careers related to communication systems, medical imaging, or even for harnessing renewable energy sources such as solar. Electromagnetic radiation is also vital for scientists, as it allows us to get a more complete picture of our universe using telescopes and instruments sensitive to different wavelengths.

Suggested learning outcomes

This lesson highlights that the electromagnetic spectrum can be divided into segments and that those segments have different penetrating powers through materials. They will also learn that a ‘window’ for radio communications through the atmosphere exists in the microwave segment. Finally, they’ll understand that information systems use digitally encoded Radio Frequency (RF) transmissions over short distances. i.e. Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) and WLAN (wireless local area network).

Download our activity sheet and other teaching resources

The activity sheet includes teachers’ notes, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your class’s and your schools’ needs.

You can download our classroom lesson plan below.

Please do share your highlights with us @IETeducation. 


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