Hey, see that over there? That literally anything you care to look at over there? You can see it, whatever it is, thanks to light. Light’s pretty reliable stuff—it comes from the sun nonstop, and any time a bulb around the house burns out, it’s a mechanical error, not because it ran out of light.
Although light is as reliable as the sun coming up in the morning, and it always travels in straight lines, it can still do some goofy, unexpected stuff. This simple-as-a-pimple Demo Science science demo will help your students get a better understanding of how reflection can “affect” light and how we see things.
It’s Spoonin’ Time
For this experiment, literally all you need is the biggest, shiniest spoon you can find and students with properly functioning eyeballs. If your Biggie Spoons isn’t that shiny, polish that sucker up, because, as with most things, the bigger the better for this demo.
See if you can’t organize the chaos of your classroom into an at least somewhat orderly group. Circling the wagons would be ideal, but any way you can get the smelly little buggers organized will work fine.
Hold the mighty Spjoonir aloft to catch the light and your students’ attention, then lower it and find a good angle at which you can see your reflection in the concave side of the scoop/bowl of the spoon (the inside?). Pass the spoon around and let your students take a crack at it—the reflection thing, not the holding it up like the Hammer of Thor part. Have your students make observations regarding the image they see before them.
The Spoonie-Spoonie Fliparoonie
While they may have observed a good many things whilst studying their reflections (kids notice the most interesting and/or unusual things), the key observation we’re looking for here is that their images appeared upside down on the spoon’s surface. So how did that happen?
Well, light rays don’t just travel in straight lines, they also reflect in straight lines. The curved surface of the spoon, however, causes the light rays to reflect off it at different angles. The angles created by the spoon cause your reflection (your “spoonflection”, if you will) to appear downside up.