Reflection: Grappling with Complexity Refraction Extravaganza! - Section 4: An Oily Difference

My students went home after the lesson and grappled with the complexity of how this worked and then emailed me their thinking. They were told to go home and look through different bottles of liquid at the same object and compare. I wanted them to think about our lesson and respond to the question: How does light bend?
Here is a sample of one of the emails I received from one student and my response.

"I think these look different because of how our eyes look at it and refraction. Refraction tricks our mind and makes it look like the tongue depressor is bending or it transformed to a bigger size. Like when we put a coin in the water it looks like it is floating but it isn't. It is different because when we put the coin in oil it didn't look like it was floating. Refraction messes with your eyes and mind.

My response: "You mean "how our eyes see"...not look. Right...It's because refraction is different in different mediums or materials that light passes through.
The lens in our eyes works to bend the light. When the lens in our eyes don't work right, we get glasses to help with the correct bending so we can see correctly. That's how glasses work. They change the refraction of our eyes.When you see the eye doctor and she puts that funny machine in front of your eyes with the dials, that is what she is messing with. :) Does this interest you? Were you amazed? Did you ever think that maybe you would want to be an eye doctor?"
I tried to connect engineering again with the science and tried to help her understand the value of learning and understanding this as it applies to the real world.

Student Responses From Home
Grappling with Complexity: Student Responses From Home

Refraction Extravaganza!

Unit 5: Energy
Lesson 7 of 11

Big Idea: Students discover the phenomena of how light bends and creates optical illusions by using two different liquids.

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Standards:
Subject(s):
Science, Light, refraction (Light), Sound, light wave, circuit, inquiry, reflection, light energy, eye, kaleidoscope
55 minutes

Mary Ellen Kanthack

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