Real Science and Other Adventures

Refraction magic – making light bend

Let’s do a simple experiment. To prepare I’ve cut two silverbeet leaves from the garden. (You might call this chard – it’s the same thing.) Each goes in a glass. One glass is filled with water and the other glass is dry.

silver beet refraction 2

Hey wait a minute!

Do you see that? See how the stalk in water doesn’t seem to connect to the stalk in the air? It’s called REFRACTION.

silver beet refraction closeup

It looks bigger in water too.

silver beet refraction closeup 3

We don’t always see things as they are!

When you see something the light has bounced off it and travelled all the way to your eye. Have you heard of a light year? That’s how far light goes in a year. It’s a very, very long way – light is very fast.

In the picture you can see through the water because the light could go through it.

Not only does light travel, but it can also change direction. Light can bend when it moves from air into water, or water into air. (Click here for a simple diagram that shows you how it works.)

You can do this for yourself, maybe with a spoon in a glass of water.

See how the bricks curve behind the glass. That’s also refraction. You can find out more about refraction if you’re interested. There are some links below.

Anyway – that’s not why I cut two leaves.

Why did I cut two?

Can you guess what I’m going to do with them?

Find out more next time.



There are quite a few! They include chard, Swiss chard, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet, bright lights, seakale beet, mangold and spinach.

This list is from the wikipedia entry for chard:



Cross-posted to Bedtime Science on the SciFund Challenge network.



One comment on “Refraction magic – making light bend

  1. Pingback: What colour do you like your celery? A classic experiment for kids | Real Science and Other Adventures

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This entry was posted on January 4, 2016 by in light, science for kids and tagged , , , , .
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