Monday, October 15, 2012

Paper plate eyeball experiment

This semester we are studying the human body. I remembered doing this experiment as a kid, and my kids (kindergarten and 7th grade) both enjoyed it.
This is something that is easy to do, you probably have all the materials on hand already.  It's a really good visual aid for how our eyes work. I had seen diagrams of this in books, but it never made as much sense as when we did this experiment.

(My apologies that the photos aren't great, the angles and lighting were not conducive to good photography, as that was somewhat of an afterthought to this project!)

a large eye lens (made with a paper plate or cardstock)
several yards of string or yarn
a piece of butcher paper
2 or more volunteers
  1. First, make an eyeball. Color the iris if you like. Cut out the middle.
  2. Secure the eyeball about 2 1/2-3 ft from the floor (depending on the height of your volunteers). You can tape it to the top of a yardstick and have someone hold it, or tape it to a chair. The important thing is just that it stays still.
  3. Have someone pose in an interesting way (something non-symmetrical) a few feet on one side of the eyeball. You may want to have them on a chair, because they will need to remain in the pose for several minutes without moving.
  4. Hang the butcher paper on the wall on the opposite side of the eyeball from the poser, at approximately the same distance from the eyeball.
  5. Tape one end of a piece of string to the posing volunteer, pass it through the center of the eye, and tape it to the butcher paper (wherever it ends up after being put through the CENTER of the eye). 
  6. Repeat step 5 with 2 or more other locations on the body. (I recommend head for one, and then try elbows, knees, shoulders, or other joints).
  7. Using the strings as guides, sketch a rough outline of the person on the butcher paper. As you do this, you will notice that the person is upside down on the drawing. This is because our eyes take things in upside down, and it is then our brain that flips them back up.
our model

the eye (and strings)

the 'back of the eyeball' upside down picture

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