Source: Be A Scientist: Light


Refracted Light

Light travels at different speeds through different materials, such as air, water, and glass. It travels more slowly through water and glass than it does through air. When light slows down or speeds up, it bends in a new direction. This bending of light is called refraction.

Materials: water, 3 glasses, 3 pencils or straws

1. Fill each glass with a different amount of water.

2. Place a pencil or straw in each glass of water and look at it.

What do you observe? __

Did the pencils really bend? _

Does the pencil or straw look larger or smaller below the water? Why?

Materials: water, glass, coin, book

1. Put a coin into an empty glass.

2. Place a book in front of the glass to hide the coin.

3. Pour some water slowly into the glass.
What happens to the coin? __

4. Take away the book. What do you see?

Why? _


Materials: a nickel or a quarter, cereal bowl, water

1. Place the coin in the bowl at the edge where the bowl starts to slope upward.

2. Stand away and look at the coin from an angle above the lip of the bowl.

3. Hold your head in a position so you see only the outer edge of the coin.

4. Keep looking at the coin as a classmate slowly pours water into the bowl.

What do you see?

Why? _

Materials: milk, glass of water, black construction paper, pencil, scissors

1. Pour a few drops of milk into a glass of water to cloud the water.

2. Cut out a piece of black paper slightly taller than the glass.

3. Make a small hole in the paper with a pencil point.

4. Place the glass in direct sunlight and hold the paper between the sun and the glass.
Do you see a beam of light?

5. Now hold the paper so the hole is just below the water level. Observe the
direction of light. What do you see?


6. Now raise the paper so the beam hits the surface of the water. Observe the
direction of light. What do you see?


Continue the experiment to find out how the angle at which the beam strikes the water
affects the direction of the beam in the water. What are your findings?