Can you trust your eyes? - CommunityResourcesSciEd

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Can you trust your eyes? - CommunityResourcesSciEd
Illusions to Observations:
Developing the seeing, thinking and
inquiry skills of 7th grade scientists
The Central Questions:
1. Can YOU trust your eyes?
2. Can WE trust what you say you see?
Emily Dodd
MS 223
7th grade
A note of introduction prior to the perusal of illusions. . .
This unit was born of a desire to organically and dramatically harness
young scientists’ innate curiosity, intrigue and wonder and compel
them to not only ask “how” and “why” and “what the . . .” questions
about the world around them, but to aggressively and collaboratively
dig in to that world and discover answers to their questions. I want
this unit to excite and inspire. I also want this unit to rigorously
challenge the level of detail and scrutiny with which students observe,
hypothesize, gather information and finally draw conclusions .
My hope is that you will try and play the part of young scientist as you
explore the videos, images, webquests, and activities. Every activity
and lesson is open to change, as is the order with which activities are
implemented in the classroom.
Finally, “play days” can be used in their entirety, as fragmented
components of longer lessons, repeated, rejected, blended, reused,
improved, and so on. “Play days” are, however, mandatory in the
execution of this unit.
The Black Hole
The Hermann grid
The Lilac Chaser
The Dragon
Can you trust
your eyes?
Can we trust what you say
you see?
the rotational orientation of the entire T
Scientists are Artists: Students will
select a Trompe l’oeill artist/work
as a model and to create their
own eye trick 2-D
2-D: Research! Scientists are
excellent readers!
the relative positions of vertical and horizontal
the relative angles of the lines
whether the lines touch or not
3-D: Scientists design 2-D/3-D
what is it that makes the vertical
line of the T seem longer than its
horizontal line when they're
actually the same length?
Optical Illusion “Play Day” 2
Gallery Tour & webquest
Explore: What are some realworld ways scientists rely on 2
dimensions and 3 dimensions to
learn about the world?
Optical Illusion
“Play Day” 1
(see PP slide 5)
Why is a T an illusion?
What are some ways
my eyes can try to
“trick” me?
trompe l'oeil
“Play Day”
(see PP slide 4)
How can I draw an optical
Lesson: Perception is not
always reality
whether the lines cross and where they cross
Science-Expo: How can we compare
and contrast our illusion conclusion to
the other conclusions in the class?
Rainbows are magical!
What illusions occur in
nature and the real-world?
1. Can you
trust your
The World was Flat!
Lesson: The Flat Earth
What makes an
“impossible” object
Demo Day: The
Magical Hooey Gooey
Lesson: Magic Hooey
How can I build an
optical illusion?
Construction Day:
3-D Dragons
/03/dragon-illusion.html (Materials)
Imagining GIANT,
amazing optical
Light Travels Instantaneously!
Video: "In Search
of the Edge: The
World is Flat"
Optical Illusion “Play
Day” 3
What’s going on?
Final Presentation: Impossible Objects Expo
Students will present their unit findings in a posterboard presentation to 6th and 8th graders:
I can tell what makes a T an illusion, I can build a 3-d
illusion, I can draw a 2-D optical illusion, so now I
can conivnce the 6th graders that they CAN or CAN
NOT trust their eyes!
The Science Journal: Making Qualitative
and quantitative observations over time
How can I write carefully about
what I observe in my terrarium?
How can I draw what I
observe in my terrarium?
The photographic journal
How can I use technology
to record what I observe?
Propagating plants
(click here for Teacher’s
How can I keep a record of
my observations?
What are some of the
different observations
I can make?
2. Can WE trust
what you say you
Final Presentation: Journal Presentations
Students will present their unit findings in a poster-board
presentation with selestions from their science journal and
complementary photographic journals (both journals will
form the final assessment piece).
Trip 1: New York Hall of Science
Some Illusions to look for a NYHOS . . .
• Depth Spinner
At this exhibit, visitors spin a disk with a black and white spiral pattern on it. While spinning, there stare at it for
fifteen seconds. When they look up at a blank wall, they notice the wall seems to be moving.
• Distorted Room
– When visitors look into this room through a view hole, it appears to be an ordinary rectangular
room. But a person walking back and forth across the room appears to shrink and grow.
• Far Out Corners
This exhibit presents a series of suspended white squares that seem to form a cube where they meet, pointing
away from the viewer. As the viewer moves side to side in front of the exhibit, the "cubes" seem to turn to follow
the visitor.
• Reverse Masks
– In this exhibit, two masks are mounted side by side. When visitors walk back and forth
while watching the masks, the mask on the right appears to rotate, following visitors
movement. Upon closer inspection, visitors see that the mask on the right is inside out
or concave.
• Sliding Gray Step
– At this exhibit visitors slide a gray striped panel over a black and white striped panel to discover that
the exact opposite is true.
Trapezoidal Window
Trip 2: Museum of the Moving Image
What to look for @ M M I
• Students will tour the Museum's core exhibition,
Behind the Screen, engaging themselves in the
creative process of making moving images. The exhibit
includes Victorian optical toys, digital media, artifacts,
interactive experiences, one-of-a-kind artworks, and
demonstrations of professional crafts and equipment.
• In an half-hour workshop, students explore the
science that underlies the perception of moving
images and make a Thaumatrope—a nineteenthcentury optical toy.
Trip 3: Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Propagating Plant Terrariums 
Science Journaling
• Students will learn about tubers, bulbs, leaf
and stem cuttings, grafting, tissue culture, and
other propagation techniques as they
construct their own mini-greenhouse with
coleus and other propagating plant specimens
The Final Observation Expo Portfolio
1. Journal of Optical Illusions
Observation records from class work
“T-Illusion” report
NYHOS materials and records
MMI thaumatrope
2. Journal of Propagating Plants
– Observations of changes over time
– Written descriptions
– Detailed sketches
3. Video of Terrarium changes in real-time (side by side plant
– Narrated or musical accompaniment
NYC Lab Inquiry Skill Standards
Write a testable question: S 1.1 Formulate questions independently with the aid of references
appropriate for guiding the search for explanations of everyday observations. S 1.1a Formulate questions
about natural phenomena
Write a Hypothesis: S1.2 Construct explanations independently for natural phenomena, especially by
proposing preliminary visual models of phenomena. S 1.2a independently formulate a hypothesis. S1.2c
differentiates among observations, inferences, predictions, and explanations.
Identify variables and controls: S2.2 Develop, present, and defend formal research proposals for testing
their own explanations of common phenomena, including ways of obtaining needed observations and
ways of conducting simple controlled experiments. S 2.2c design a simple controlled experiment.
Plan and record step-by-step procedures for a valid investigation, select equipment and materials:
S2.1d Use appropriate tools and conventional techniques to solve problems about the natural world,
including: measuring, observing, describing, classifying, sequencing.
Conduct an investigation that includes multiple trials and records data appropriately: S2.3 Carry out
their research proposals, recording observations and measurements (e.g., lab notes, audiotape, computer
disk, videotape) to help assess the explanation. S 2.3b conducts a scientific investigation. S 2.3c collect
quantitative and qualitative data.
Organizes and displays data appropriately: S3.1 Design charts, tables, graphs, and other representations
of observations in conventional and creative ways to help them address their research question or
hypothesis. S 3.1a organize results, using appropriate graphs, diagrams and data tables.
Draw conclusions based on supporting scientific evidence S3.2 Interpret the organized data to answer the
research question or hypothesis and to gain insight into the problem. S 3.2a accurately describes the
procedures used and the data gathered. S 3.2b identify source of error and the limitations of data
Optical Illusion “Play Day” 1
Students will complete this worksheet while exploring optical illusions. Note: Encourage
students to present questions that relate their selected illusion to the essential question (i.e.
What are some ways my eyes can try to “trick” me?)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvVfcyVCdNA (Bill Nye)
Trompe l'oeil “Play Day”
• Students will complete this worksheet while exploring 2-D
illusions. Note: Encourage students to record observations
that tie to the essential question (i.e. What do you see that
seems crazy or suggests your eyes are “tricking” you?)
• http://www.trompe-l-oeil-art.com/trompe.html
• http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2002/slideshow/slide-1761.shtm
• http://www.illusion-art.com/pubimg.asp
• http://www.yvesart.com/
• http://www.jdhillberry.com/tromp_thumbpage.htm
• http://www.moillusions.com/2006/10/amazing-3d-trompeloeils.html
So . . . what do YOU think? Can you trust your eyes?
(And no, those wheels aren't turning—it’s just your eyes playing tricks on you. )
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