Ambiguous Cube

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In this activity, learners construct a three-dimensional ambiguous cube to explore visual illusions and how our brains interpret or misinterpret information. Learners will be surprised to see what the cube looks like when they hinder their depth perception by viewing it with only one eye.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • 12 drinking straws
  • 4 12-inch-long chenille stems (pipe cleaners)
  • additional chenille stems and straws (optional)
  • string (optional)
  • scissors


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
      • Solid Geometry
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Rathjen, Don


  • All rights reserved, Exploratorium, 2009