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Matrix revisited

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Modelling
Topic: Light

Based on the concluding part to the hugely popular Matrix Trilogy, in this activity pupils design and build models of a new special effect for the Matrix. They construct a 'film set' and in the process, using drinking straws to represent beams of light, show how light travels and how it is reflected and refracted.

Published: 22nd January 2005
Reviews & Comments: 16

Try the activity


You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

11-14 (KS3)
Light QCA 8h: reflection, refraction, and absorption of different colours of light by surfaces. 14-16 (KS4)
Waves as Radiation: similar contexts

Running the activity

First, set the scene for this starter and main activity by talking about the Matrix, and its special effects. If you can, show a trailer for the movie.
Then tell pupils to imagine that they are helping to design special effects for the first film of a new Matrix series.

The scenario is: Agent Smith has chased Neo to the 22nd floor of the building. Neo is hiding on the far side of a huge concrete wall. Neo has new powers that will help him spot his enemy, to avoid him. He can send out beams of light rays, which we will 'see in the film.

Next, give out page 1. This gives the instructions for the task, and tells pupils how to use the cutouts on pages 2, 3, 4 and 5 to build models to show what happens next.
They will build two different scenes, showing how the beams:
• bounce off walls (reflect)
• pass through concrete as if it were glass (refract)
Ask pupils to think about getting the angles of light correct.

Having made the models, pupils can explain (as if to the special effects people) how the science works. Activity 4 is an extension activity that looks at the colour of light. Agent Smith can now send out white light (a combination of red, green and blue straws). Pupils model how this reflects off the walls and suggest that Neo could avoid this, by turning himself blue or red. You could take photos of the models for display.

News links

What is the Matrix?
The official Matrix website includes trailers, storyboards and lots of behind the scenes information

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