Kinesthetic Model of Refraction

Light slows down and bends (refracts) when it travels from one medium into another, such as from air to water or plastic. This kinesthetic activity helps young scientists understand and remember how light bends and why.

Grade Range: 1 to 5

Duration: 1/2 Hour – 1 Hour


  • Masking tape
  • An outdoor sidewalk that runs along a grassy field OR
  • A large, flat area for marching students

NGSS Connections

PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation

Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.

  • The path that light travels can be traced as straight lines, except at surfaces between different transparent materials (e.g. air and water, air and glass) where the light path bends (MS-PS4-2)
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