Bent Toward Science: Refraction

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This is an activity about the behavior of light. Using simple, everyday objects, learners will discover that light moves in straight lines until acted upon by another object. Light moves so fast, sometimes our eyes can only see light move when a change in observed. In the second part of the activity, learners explore how this concept relates to something more tangible: a toy car.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • Short, opaque cup
  • Coin
  • Water
  • Battery-powered toy car or any toy with wheels



  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
    • States of Matter
    • Structure and Properties of Matter


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, COSI Columbus, 2009