Pepping up teaching the electromagnetic spectrum for SEN students

We’ve been looking at the EM spectrum this week which is difficult with SEN students who find the idea incredibly hard to grasp.

To make this topic more hands on we’ve done a series of practical lessons looking at different types of waves.  Perhaps you’ll have time to squeeze a few of these in – they do make a dull topic more fun.

Radio waves

Investigating properties of radio waves using a mobile phone by using Bluetooth to send photographs to each other (check your school policy on mobile phone use first!).

Factors which affect Bluetooth signals (worksheet)


Measuring the speed of light using a microwave oven


Using a digital camera to view the infrared signal from a DVD remote control.


Spectrum – splitting white light using a prism.

the spectrum worksheet


Ultraviolet sensitive beads (work in sun or with a UV lamp).  Also looking at security markers, money, credit cards etc under UV light.


Published by Rob Butler

Ex-science teacher, ex-school leader and full-time geek.

3 replies on “Pepping up teaching the electromagnetic spectrum for SEN students”

  1. Love these ideas – am going to shamelessly steal some of them to finish off the EM circus we’re putting together at my place!

    For what it’s worth, I show the kids X-rays (I have a friend who’s a radiographer) and then we show how they work by holding silhouettes up to a window or bright light. With the right thickness card the shape is only visible whent he light is behind it.

    If you have the equipment, you can actually demonstrate a mock gamma tracer too. You’ll need an outline of a person, ideally one of card with the organs shown on it. Draw a path on the back that follows the digestive system, and stop it at the intestines. With a few chances to practise, you can show a class (who hold the detector) that radiation is detected outside. I suppose this would work with an alpha source if you used thin enough card, too…

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