Parabolas: It's All Done with Mirrors

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In this activity about light and reflection, learners use a special device called a Mirage Maker™ to create an illusion. What they perceive as an object is really an image in space, created by two concave mirrors. Learners will be surprised when they try to grab the object on the mirror and there's nothing there! Activity includes a light-ray diagram to help explain how the image is created.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration


Materials List (per student)

  • Mirage Maker™
  • Object like a coin or small, colorful object that looks like a push-button, resting on a "PUSH" sign


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
  • 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
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • 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