How to Make Light Bend for Science Experiments

Six Methods:Testing Light Refraction through a Glass/Bottle Filled with WaterMaking a Simple Beam of Light ApparatusMaking a Refraction BottleBuilding a Diffusing Smoke BoxUsing Lenses (Convex & Concave) to Magnify Light/ImagesBuilding a Simple Microscope

It is said that nothing travels faster than light, and that light rays travel in a straight line. but not many know that light can also be slowed down and even bent. Once it strikes an object or travels from one medium to another, it can be reflected, refracted, and absorbed. There are many fun ways to experiment with light ranging from color spectrum of rays, photography, magnifying lenses, mirrors, and so on. In this tutorial you will learn some neat tricks and build simple apparatus to study and bring light to more properties of light refraction.

Method 1
Testing Light Refraction through a Glass/Bottle Filled with Water

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    Fill a tall clear glass jar with water.
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    Place a stick on the tall jar of water, so that part of the stick is submerged.
  3. 3
    Observe the submerged part of the stick. Does it appear to bend?
    • Explain on your experiment that light bending or refracting is caused when light rays at initial velocity travel from air to glass/water medium, the light rays are slowed down slightly and so its trajectory is bent:
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    Pour a few drops of milk into the glass of water in order to cloud the water.

Method 2
Making a Simple Beam of Light Apparatus

  1. 1
    Pierce a piece of cardboard or dark paper with a needle or tack.
  2. 2
    Dim or turn the lights off
  3. 3
    Direct a beam of light towards the bottom of water filled jar from the top through the hole.
  4. 4
    Place the cardboard with the hole above the water level.
  5. 5
    Place the hole below water level from the sides.
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    Observe at different angles to find out how direction and angle affect light.

Method 3
Making a Refraction Bottle

  1. 1
    Paint a glass bottle with black paint.
  2. 2
    Scratch of some paint forming a clear circle halfway on the painted bottle.
  3. 3
    Fill bottle with water and drops of milk to where the surface is leveled to the center of the circle.
  4. 4
    Use a protractor and a marker to mark and measure angles of light rays as you shine the beam trough the top of the bottle.

Method 4
Building a Diffusing Smoke Box

  1. 1
    Obtain or construct a wooden box about 30 centimetres (12 in) wide by 60 centimetres (24 in) in length.
  2. 2
    Place panes of glass or clear plastic panels on the top ceiling and one on the front side wall.
  3. 3
    For the back wall of your box hang a black drape/curtain like cloth in two sections leaving a 10 centimetres (3.9 in) overlay at the center.
  4. 4
    Paint the inside of the box with matte black paint.

Method 5
Using Lenses (Convex & Concave) to Magnify Light/Images

  1. 1
    Cover window of the smoke box with a piece of black cardboard in which you have punched three holes.
  2. 2
    Direct a flashlight beam through the small holes.
  3. 3
    View from the top/or side of box glass.
  4. 4
    Observe the angle of each of the three light rays.
  5. 5
    Now change the distance between the flashlight and the holes.
  6. 6
    Observe what happens with the angles and the relation to the distance of light source.

Method 6
Building a Simple Microscope

  1. 1
    Make a single turn of copper wire around a nail to form a loop.
  2. 2
    Dip the wire loop into water and look through it. There you will see now you have a simple microscope like the earliest ones used.
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  • You can use many different kinds of lenses. For example: the bottom of a glass bottle, or even a drop of water at the bottom of a glass cup.


  • If using glass cups or lenses be careful around children.

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Categories: Science