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Disappearing Glass Rods

Source Institutions

    The Exploratorium

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Disappearing Glass Rods

In this optics activity, learners discover how they can make glass objects "disappear." Learners submerge glass objects like stirring rods into a beaker of Wesson™ oil to explore how the principles of reflection and refraction affect what we see. Use this activity as a demonstration or allow learners to experiment on their own.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Wesson™ oil (Regular, not lite)
  • One or more Pyrex® stirring rods or other small, clear glass objects
  • A beaker
  • Glass eyedropper, glass magnifying lens (optional)


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, The Exploratorium,

Funding Sources:

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


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