We’ve done this light refraction experiment many times before, but this time it’s Alice in Wonderland themed.

A reversing arrows science investigation is very easy and can be made as simple or creative as you wish.

If you don’t want to make it themed like I have below, just draw arrows on a small piece of card or paper and place them behind a glass of water.

If you like the Alice in Wonderland theme, I have a similar mirror writing activity too!

You’ll need

Paper straws

Card or paper



Felt tip pens

A tall glass of water


Create signs like I have in the image below.

Place a glass of water in front of the signs and watch what happens.

Try moving the glass closer to the sign and further away. You should find that if you move the glass closer to the sign the image is not reversed.

light refraction experiment, Alice in Wonderland themed.

The science of light refraction

The light reaching your eye coming from the arrow is refracted ( bent ) through the glass of water. The glass of water acts like a convex lens (like you might have in a magnifying glass). Convex lenses bend light to a focal point. This is the point at which the light from an object crosses.

The light that was at the tip of the arrow is now on the right side and the light on the right side is now on the left as far as your eye is concerned (assuming you are further away from the glass than the focal point.

Cardboard signs with arrows on them for a light refraction experiment.

Extension Task

Move the arrow image closer to the glass than the focal point. It should now be the way around you expect it to be!

Experiment with different images and text on your signs.

More light refraction experiments

Make a coin disappear with this fun refraction magic trick!

This bending a pencil activity from Raising Lifelong Learners is great too!

Find out how refraction plays a part in rainbows and how to bend light with a prism.

Images of an Alice in Wonderland finger puppet and signs with arrows ready for a light refraction experiment using a glass of water to bend light

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Originally posted at Science Sparks