Your Father's Nose

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In this fun optics activity, learners explore principles of light, reflection (mirrors), and perception. Learners work in pairs and sit on opposite sides of a "two-way" mirror. Both partners vary the amount light illuminating their faces. As they adjust the light, they begin to see themselves gradually assuming aspects of their partner's features, so that their image becomes a "composite" person. This activity includes instructions on how to build a two-way mirror.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Exhibit


Materials List (per group of students)

  • A piece of ordinary window glass, approximately 1 x 1 foot (30 x 30 cm)
  • Aluminized Mylar™ reflecting film to cover one side of the glass (You can buy this at most hardware or do-it-yourself stores.)
  • 2 goose-neck desk lamps
  • 2 dimmer switches (Ready-to-use types are available at hardware stores. No wiring is necessary. See the diagram.)
  • 2 extension cords
  • Mirror stand of some sort (There are any number of ways to stand the glass up; see the Assembly section.)
  • A partner and adult help


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
    • 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

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