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Kate Thompson

Children's Author

A Light-Bending Experiment

Light-Bending Experiment 1

Specstacular’s specs are SUPER for battling baddies AND helping her to see clearly. The lenses in her specs bend (the technical term is  ‘refract’) the light to help bring things into focus for her eyes. In this experiment, YOU can bend light using a glass of  water, and see something SPECTACULAR!

You Will Need:

A pen
1 see-through glass
1 jug or glass of water

What to do:

  1. Draw an arrow pointing left or right on the paper.
  2. Place the picture behind the empty glass so you can see the arrow through the glass.
  3. Carefully pour water into your glass.
  4. Watch what happens to the arrow when you look at it through the water. It should look as though it has changed direction! If nothing happens, try moving the paper slightly further away.

What happened?

Light changes speeds when it moves from one ‘medium’ to another. A ‘medium’ is a substance like water, air, or glass. When light changes speed it changes direction a little bit. This change of direction, or bending of the light, is called ‘refraction’.

It looks as though the arrow has changed direction because the light bent when it passed from the air through the glass, then bent even more when it passed through the water and then back out through the other side of the glass. This makes the image look as though it has flipped!

What else to try?

Try drawing different pictures, experimenting with different sizes and shapes of glass, and even different clear liquids, for example oil. What effect do these changes have?