Seeing Your Retina

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In this quick optics activity, learners use a dim point of light (a disassembled Mini MagLite and dowel set-up) to cast a shadow of the blood supply in their retina onto the retina itself. This allows learners to see the blood supply of their retina and even their blind spot. Learners are encouraged to wear eye protection.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • A Mini MagLite
  • 3/8 inch dowel, cut to the length of a AA battery
  • Aluminum foil
  • A room which you can darken
  • A sheet of black construction paper
  • Eye protection
  • Eye


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


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


  • Doherty, Paul


Funding Sources:

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