Seeing Is Believing

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This activity is designed to accompany the PBS documentary about African-American chemist "Percy Julian: Forgotten Genius." Learners look through two cups with small holes in them to simulate what it's like to have glaucoma. Percy Julian helped make an eye medicine for people with glaucoma called physostigmine (pronounced fie-so-STIG-meen). Experiencing the effects of glaucoma can help learners better appreciate the importance of Julian's chemical research.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • two 3-oz opaque paper cups for each person
  • sharpened pencil


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
      • Medical Technology
  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
    • Human Body
      • Health and Nutrition
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
    • Science as a Career
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and History
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation


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

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • African American

    • Acknowledges this group's contributions to STEM
    • Identifies role models or mentors in STEM fields from this group
    • Uses inclusive images of people from this group


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • NOVA


  • All rights reserved, WGBH Educational Foundation, 2006

Funding Sources:

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Corporation for PublicBroadcasting
  • Public Television Viewers
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • National Science Foundation, 9901978
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Playhouse
  • Mr. and Mrs. William G. Brown