Exploring the electromagnetic spectrum with superheroes

Barry W. Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional

2 Citations (Scopus)


The various radiation types that make up the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum are ubiquitous and highly significant in modern society. Detection of visible light by the eye facilitates sight, radio waves and microwaves are used in communication technologies, x-rays are used in medical imaging, and gamma rays are frequently employed in medical procedures. Although radiation plays a predominant role in daily life, many students have developed and retain misconceptions concerning EM radiation. These misconceptions could be addressed through the use of popular culture content such as superheroes in the classroom. In a number of superhero narratives, EM radiation plays a key role in the emergence or development of superpowers. In this paper, we outline three approaches for using superheroes to support the learning of the EM spectrum, and to potentially address key student misconceptions. In one approach we have designed a student worksheet based on Captain America and vita-rays, a fictional radiation type that plays a key role in his superpowers. The worksheet has been designed to instigate critical reflection on the part of the student, while allowing the student to apply their understanding of other forms of radiation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number015019
Number of pages10
JournalPhysics Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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