Giant Lens

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this activity about light and refraction, learners discover how a lens creates an image that hangs in midair. A large Fresnel lens creates upside-down images of distant objects and right-side-up images of nearby objects. Learners can locate the upside-down images by using a piece of white paper as a screen. The right-side-up images are harder to find. Activity includes detailed explanations and diagrams to explain how the images are created.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • A large plastic page-magnifier Fresnel lens (6 x 9 inches [15 x 22 cm] or larger)
  • Spring clips from a stationary store
  • Corrugated cardboard or foamcore sheet, 9 x 9 inches (22 x 22 cm)
  • 2 soda straws
  • Common pins
  • String
  • A partner


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Lenses and Mirrors
      • Reflection and Refraction


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


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation
  • California Department of Education
  • NEC Foundation of America