Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Polarizing Light

Figure from experiment 24 from Physical Science with Vernier


Light is a wave. Just as waves on the water can push a floating bird up and down, a beam of light traveling toward you can push atoms up and down or to the left and right, or at a slant. The direction of the push and pull is always perpendicular to the direction the light is traveling. In ordinary light, light of all the different orientations are mixed together in equal amounts in a random way. In polarized light, one direction of the push and pull has been selected so the light can only push and pull atoms in one direction (possibly up and down or possibly left and right, but not both).

Some sunglasses are made of material that polarizes light. Polarizing material only allows light polarized in one direction to pass through. Light polarized in the perpendicular direction is absorbed and does not pass through. In this experiment you will use a Light Sensor to study what happens when light hits two consecutive polarizing filters.


  • Use a Light Sensor to measure the intensity of transmitted light.
  • Study the transmission of light by polarizing filters.
  • Record data.
  • Make a graph of the data.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Physical Science with Vernier »

Experiment 24 from Physical Science with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Physical Science with Vernier</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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