Water Sphere Lens

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In this activity about light and refraction, learners make a lens and magnifying glass by filling a bowl with water. Learners explore why the lens inverts images and also reverses the motion of images. Use this activity to introduce learners to basic principles of light and lenses. Activity includes light-ray diagram to explain how image is formed.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • A Florence (round-bottomed) flask or transparent spherical bowl, such as a fishbowl
  • A candle or a clear lightbulb with socket and cord
  • A white card to use as a viewing screen
  • Water
  • A sheet of newspaper
  • Adult help


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Lenses and Mirrors
      • 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



Funding Sources:

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