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Create a lens

You will need:

  • A shoebox
  • A torch
  • Scissors
  • White paper
  • A dark room
  • A straight-sided glass of water (short enough to sit within with the shoebox)


  1. Cut a 5 mm wide slit in one end of the shoe box.
  2. Cut a similar slit in the other end.
  3. Turn off the lights and shine the torchlight through the slits.
  4. Hold a piece of white paper at the end – you should see a thin slit of light on the paper.
  5. Now place a straight-sided glass of water inside the shoe box in between the slits.
  6. Shine the torch again through the slits (and the glass) and onto the paper.
  7. What do you observe?
bending light

Setup for observing the light bend

Image formed from bending light

Image formed from bending light

What is going on?

When you look at the light as it shines through the glass of water in the box, you should see that the rectangle of light on the paper spreads out. As light enters the water in the glass, it is bent, because light moves more slowly through water than air. This makes the light ‘spread out’ so it creates a broader beam of light.
Bending light is called 'refraction'. 

Be Amazing Book Front Cover; Ben Newsome, teacher & founder of Fizzics Education. Be Amazing -how to teach science the way primary kids love
Be Amazing!
How to teach science, the way primary kids love

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