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Activity: Magic Drawing

Learn how to magically flip your drawings using refraction of light with this fun art meets science activity. This is a fun “magic” trick anyone can do!


  • drinking glass
  • water
  • paper
  • black marker



Step 1: Draw something simple, like an arrow or a number, on the paper.

Step 2: Pour some water into the empty drinking glass.

Step 3: Hold up your drawing behind the glass of water.

Step 4: Observe how the drawing changes when you hold it behind the glass of water.

What in the WOW happened?

Glad you asked Wowsers! Your image should have flipped directions. This is because the light travels through the water differently than when there is no water! It essentially bends the light when it enters the water and then bends it again when it leaves the water, which is why the image ends up looking flipped. WOW!!!


Some questions to ponder: How did your picture change? What bits stay the same? Does image size matter? What happens if you try with a wider (or narrower) glass? What happens if you move the glass closer to the image? Or further away? You could use a ruler to measure the distances and record your results. Does it change if you look at it straight on or slightly from the side?