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Age Range: 11-14 | 14-16
Duration: 0-29 mins
  • D&T
  • Physics

Electromagnetic waves

Look at the type of electromagnetic radiation used in different imaging techniques

In this engaging activity students will look at the properties and applications of waves in general, and the electromagnetic spectrum in particular.

The use of different types of signals is hugely important in all areas of healthcare. Signal processing engineers are involved in everything from extracting information from the body’s own electrical and chemical signals to using wireless signals to allow search-and-rescue robot swarms to communicate with each other. From X-rays to MRI scans, student will gain a new appreciation for the science behind these common procedures.

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

Activity: Looking at the type of electromagnetic radiation used in different imaging techniques

Learners will try to work out the type of electromagnetic radiation used in different imaging techniques.

Students will be given a quiz handout with five statements related to a specific wavelength of electromagnetic radiation. They will discuss in mixed ability teams to determine the correct type of radiation for each statement. The quiz includes four rounds, with the possibility of extending the activity by adding properties for other areas of the spectrum such as infrared, ultraviolet, and more.

Download our activity overview for a detailed lesson plan for teaching students about electromagnetic waves.

The engineering context

Many medical imaging technologies, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI, are based on principles of electromagnetic radiation. By looking at the practical applications of electromagnetic radiation, students will see first hand how engineers can make significant contributions to healthcare and other vital sectors.

Suggested learning outcomes

Students will deepen their understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum and its continuous range of wavelengths, frequencies, and associated properties. They will become aware of the practical applications of electromagnetic radiation in medicine, particularly through the use of scanners. This knowledge will not only enhance their scientific understanding but also foster critical thinking and cooperative learning skills.

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 students’ and your schools’ needs.

You can download our classroom lesson plan and quizzes below.

Please do share your highlights with us @IETeducation. 


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