Bending Light

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In this optics activity, learners make a lens and explore how the eye manipulates the light that enters it. Learners use a shoebox, a glass of water, and colored plastic to make essentially a model of an eye. Then, they investigate what happens when they shine light through the model to discover how our eyes work.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • Utility or Exacto knife
  • Clear glass
  • Water
  • Scotch tape
  • A piece of colored plastic
  • Flashlight
  • Shoebox or similar box, no top needed


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Lenses and Mirrors
      • Reflection and Refraction
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Walter, Pamela J. ; Paddock, Bruce T.


  • All rights reserved, Optical Society of America, 2008