Light Refraction Experiment


  1. coin, water
  2. *blu tack (mounting putty, what our family calls “sticky stuff” for hanging things on the wall – *can do without)
  3. a bowl that you can’t see through (not glass)


  1. Put the coin in the bottom middle of the bowl. If you have “sticky stuff,” then stick the coin to the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Pour some water into the bowl and cover the coin. Pour slowly. Pour very carefully if your coin isn’t stuck so that you don’t move it.
  3. The observer should move backwards until the coin just goes out of sight.
  4. The pourer should then start to slowly and carefully add more water. Keep adding water until the coin is in view to the observer.


  1. At first, the bowl keeps you from seeing the coin.
  2. The water bends the light over the edge of the bowl so that you can see the coin.
  3. In the bath you can see if something at the bottom of the tub seems closer to the surface than it really is.
  4. Refracted light is when light bends. It happens when it hits a surface which makes the light change directions. Water is one of those surfaces that bends light.