What do people who are blind see?
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DISCUSS (1 of 3):

Why do you think some people have problems with vision?

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DISCUSS (2 of 3):

How could we figure out how eyes work?

Here’s what we came up with...

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DISCUSS (3 of 3): Look at these eyes, and the eyes of the person next to you. What's the same? What's different?

Eyes Comparison

Do you think that any of the differences could explain why some people have trouble with vision, or not?

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration you just completed.
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Readings:

These Common-Core-aligned readings are free with registration on ReadWorks. All readings include comprehension questions.

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Discussion

Why does a lens make an image appear upside-down?

The lenses in your eyes are known as “convex” lenses: they’re curved outward. As light rays enter the far edges of a convex lens, the light rays are bent inwards. In other words, light rays entering the top of the lens bend down toward the bottom of the retina, and light rays coming in from the bottom of the lens bend toward the top of the retina. This is why the image looks upside-down! (You might wonder: Why don’t we see everything upside-down? That is a question which puzzled scientists… learn more!

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Discussion with Video

Why don't we see everything upside-down?

Light makes an upside-down picture on the retina of your model eye. The picture on the retina of your real eye is also upside down. So why don’t you see everything upside-down? Ask your students if they can think of an experiment that might answer this question.

Here's an experiment some scientists tried. They had someone wear eyeglasses that flipped the picture in their eyes so it was right-side-up. To find out what happened, watch this video.

It turns out that the answer is not in your eyes -- but in your brain. Your brain learns to make sense of the picture in your eyes -- whether it's right-side-up or upside-down.

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Exploration
blind man by TommyEdisonXP , used under CC BY
cat in window by Chris Lattuada , used under CC BY / Heavily modified
glasses by Michelle Arseneault , used under CC BY-SA / Adjusted color, cropped
cow by Peggy Greb
Activity
race car by The Tire Zoo , used under CC BY
light switch by Derek Gavey , used under CC BY-SA
man standing in front of curtains by Maegan Tintari , used under CC BY-SA
Other
Unit: brown eye by Giulia Marotta , used under Public Domain
Overview
Grade 4th
Topic Human Body, Senses, & The Brain
Focus Eyes & Vision
Print
Activity Prep

In this Mystery, students discover the basics of how their eyes work, and figure out some of the causes of vision problems. In the activity, Eye Model, students develop a working model of a human eye. They use a magnifying lens as a model of the cornea to explore how the structure of this lens is related to the function of our eyes.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Markers
Used to color the iris so we suggest brown, blue, and green colors. Crayons or colored pencils will also work.
Details
30 markers
Scissors
30 pairs
Dot Stickers
We prefer stickers because they are easier to distribute in a classroom. Tape also works.
Details
60 stickers
Index Cards (3x5)
30 cards
Credit Card Size Magnifiers (3x)
You can find great prices on ebay.com, but you have to plan a few weeks ahead. Search ebay for “3X credit-card magnifier.”
Details
30 lenses
Front of the Eye printout Print 30 copies
Prep Instructions

Try Making An Image With the Lens Before Class

As soon as you have a 3X magnifying lens, use it to make an image. For the best image, you need a dimly lit room and an interesting light source — like a window that lets light in, a lamp with a shade, or a television. Watch this short video for a demonstration.

After you’ve made an image, check to see what will work in your classroom. Do you have a door to the outside that you can prop open? A bright window? An interesting light fixture?

Hold On To The Eye Models

If you will be teaching Mystery 3, then you must save the eye models that students make in this Mystery. Keep them in a safe place until you are ready to teach Mystery 3.

Overview
Grade 4th
Topic Human Body, Senses, & The Brain
Focus Eyes & Vision
Download this Mystery to your device so you can play it offline: