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Science presenter Jon Chase practically demonstrates refraction by placing the handle of a Pyrex jug into vegetable oil to make it seemingly disappear. The definition of refraction is then given. Footage of refraction is seen, including a ray of light passing into and out of a glass block. The adjustment (because of refraction) made by birds hunting fish in water is described. A full description of why the Pyrex handle seems to disappear is then given.
Students can investigate refraction using ray boxes and blocks of Perspex or glass. The demonstration can be repeated using vegetable oil and Pyrex, including laboratory glassware. It is most impressive when repeated using a very large beaker and a smaller beaker. Search online for ‘water beads’ to purchase low cost hydrogel polymer beads which absorb a lot of water and swell up into larger colourless spheres which have the same refractive index and water, so appear invisible when immersed. Students will be able to dip their hand into the water and feel them, but not see them.
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