Make a Mind-Bending Illusion!

What You Need:

  • 2 small mirrors
  • Glue
  • 2 dowels or unsharpened pencils

What You Do:

  1. Have your child glue the two mirrors together, back to back. Make sure he is very careful when he does this so he doesn't cut himself on the mirrors. If the edges of the mirrors are sharp, consider applying tape to them first.
  2. Help him glue the dowels or pencils to the mirrors, one on either side. Be sure to glue the dowels in the center of the mirror. These will serve as “handles.”
  3. Once the glue is dry, ask him to hold the mirror in front of him, slightly to one side, by grasping a dowel in each hand.
  4. Have him look into one side of the mirror while twisting the hand holding the other side of the mirror. How does it feel?
  5. If he thinks it feels weird, he's right! When he looks into the mirror and sees the reflection of his right hand, his mind interprets the reflection as his left hand, the one that's moving. When the hand in the mirror doesn't move, however, the mind gets confused!

What Happened?

In discussing the results with your child, explain to him that the brain constantly receives information from the senses about conditions both inside the body and out. The brain rapidly analyzes this information and then sends out messages that control body functions and actions. In this case the brain was temporary confused and had to “fudge” a little when interpreting what the eyes were seeing. What seemed almost like magic is actually a little slice of neuroscience!

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