I know you can bend a lot of things. You can bend your elbow and your knee. Yesterday you bent the toothpicks to prepare them to make the star. But did you know that you can bend light?? Well actually, you don’t have to do much bending, because light can bend itself as it travels through different objects. Light rays generally travel in a straight line, but when they pass from one material to another they can bend. They bend because light rays travel faster through air than other materials like water. When the light rays hit the water, they slow down and bend inward. This is called refraction. Before we do an experiment where we see the “magic” of refraction, let’s take a closer look at light.
I See the Light! A Song about Light Sources– Primary (K-2)
Sources of Light– Primary (K-2)
Light: The Dr. Binocs Show– Intermediate (3-5)
How Your Eyes Work?– Intermediate (3-5)
For additional cool facts about the eye visit Your Amazing Eyes! by National Geographic Kids. Click the title to go to the site. Kids under 3rd grade may need help reading the article.
Extend the activity by making a Blinking Origami Eyeball from kids activities.com. Click on the title to go to the directions.
Experiment Time: Let’s Bend Some Light!!
You all are masters at light now, right? We’ve learned about different sources of light. We’ve also learned that light travels in a straight path. When it hits an object but can’t go through it, the object is opaque (like a wall or a person). A shadow is caused by an opaque object blocking the light from traveling through it. This results in an area of darkness appearing behind an object. When light can go through an object, we say the object is transparent (like a window, a thin piece of clear plastic or a glass of water). Sometimes when light goes through a transparent object, the light bends, which is called refraction. Let’s do an experiment to see refraction in action! Materials: a clear glass filled with water, paper, marker/pen/crayon