Simple Light Refraction Experiment

Scared of science?  Don’t be.  Doing science with your kids can be the best part of their week.  And it’s not nearly as complicated as scientists and the writers of textbooks would like you to believe.  If the words light refraction intimidate you, read on…

Take, for example, optics.  Sounds scary, doesn’t it?  But it’s actually just learning about how light behaves, which is part of your normal day and in many ways something you understand intuitively.  Here’s a super simple light refraction experiment.

All you need is a bowl, with opaque (not see through) sides, a coin, and water.

  1. place the coin in the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Back up until you’re about two feet from the bowl, then bend your knees and squat down until the coin is just out of sight under the rim of the bowl.
  3. Have a partner slowly pour water into the bowl until it’s full nearly to the rim.

The coin will have appeared in your line of sight as the water was poured in.  You can see it because when the light hits the water it slows down and slowing down makes it bend.

Additional Layers

  • Bending light is used to good purpose in lenses, such as those used for eye glasses, or microscopes, or telescopes or many other applications.
  • The Greeks were the first to use bending light to magnify objects, as in this experiment, their lens was water.
  • Science and technology are the careers of the present and the foreseeable future in the west.  When we were kids everyone wanted to grow up to be a doctor so they could make lots of money.  Today kids want to grow up to be computer programmers, software developers or the inventor the latest and greatest tech gadget.
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One Response to Simple Light Refraction Experiment

  1. Susan says:

    Thanks for linking this up at Look What We Did!

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