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Create an Optical Illusion

Invite students to share their drawings with the class. Instruct them to identify what their eyes see and what their brains know. Challenge students to pinpoint elements in their drawings that cause their eyes to misinterpret the information.

PROCESS:

  1. Ask the class: Is it possible for your eyes and brain to disagree? If so, which would you believe — your eyes or your brain? Discuss the possibilities. Challenge students to give good reasons for whichever option they chose.
  2. Display a video to teach students about optical illusions.
  3. Then access the Smithsonian magazine article "These Patterns Move, But It’s All an Illusion." Double click on each image to display the pattern full-screen.
  4. Encourage students to describe what they see. Challenge them to explain how and why that’s different from what their brains know. Brainstorm reasons why students think this phenomenon might occur.
  5. Give each student a piece of plain white paper and access to markers. Then follow a lesson plan and invite students to create their own optical illusions.

ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to share their drawings with the class. Instruct them to identify what their eyes see and what their brains know. Challenge students to pinpoint elements in their drawings that cause their eyes to misinterpret the information.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
Show students a video from the National Eye Institute. Use a lesson plan that teaches students how to create an optical illusion handprint.

Grades 5-6:
Show students a video from the National Eye Institute. Use a lesson plan that teaches students how to create a 3-D illustration.

Grades 7-8:
Show students a video of a TED ED lesson explaining how optical illusions trick your brain. Use a lesson plan that teaches students basic elements of op art that they can incorporate as they create their own optical illusion illustrations.

Grades 9-10:
Show students a video of a TED ED lesson explaining how optical illusions trick your brain. Use a lesson plan that teaches students how to create an optical design.