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6th Grade Core
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Introduction: Have you ever noticed how a straw looks bent when it is placed in a glass of water or clear soda? As light travels from one medium (solid, liquid, or gas) to another, it changes speed causing the light to bend or refract.



  • Bowl
  • Penny
  • Water
  • Tape 


  1. Tape a penny to the inside bottom of the bowl.
  2. Place the bowl on a desk or table where you and your friends can stand around the table and observe.
  3. Slowly back away from the bowl until the penny is just out of view. Predict what will happen when water is placed in the bowl.
  4. Have a friend pour water into the bowl.
  5. Make sure you clean up your mess!

Watch the QuickTime video showing how this activity happens.



  • What did you observe? Explain your answer.
  • What do you think would happen if vegetable oil were used instead of water? Try it!


solar_system_image size_motion_distance_image microorganism_image Heat_light_and_sound_image

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 6th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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