Altered Reality

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In this activity, learners discover that the human brain is highly adaptable. Learners try to toss beanbags at a target while wearing prism goggles. Learners collect and interpret data and then have an opportunity to design additional experiments. This activity demonstrates how the brain adapts to new situations.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1 pair of safety goggles
  • ƒFresnel lenses/page magnifier (#406)
  • ƒ 5-10 beanbags (same weight, shape, and texture)
  • 1 target (a sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper works well)
  • A wall with no distinguishing features that might help learners aim at the target
  • ƒStudent Guide
  • Individual or group data table(s)


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Lenses and Mirrors
      • Reflection and Refraction
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Sources:

  • SEPA (Science Education Partnership Award) supported by the National Center for Research Resources, a part of the National Institutes of Health
  • ARRA