science and Technology

Elf Tricks – Reversing Arrows


This cheeky elf has switched around Santa’s signs. Can you find a way to quickly reverse the arrows before Santa flies by?

This science activity is a fun way to learn about refraction. Did you know that light bends as it moves from one material to another with a different density?

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This is unusual as normally light travels in straight lines, which we demonstrated with a light maze.

You’ll need:

A tall glass of water

Paper or my handy template



Draw an arrow on a piece of paper.

Place the glass of water in front of the arrow and look at the arrow through the glass. The image should be reversed.

Why does this happen?

The light reaching your eyes from the arrow is refracted ( bent ) through the glass of water. The light slows down as it enters the glass and speeds up again as it leaves. The light rays cross over after they leave the glass, which means you see the image in reverse.

Extension Tasks

Move the glass closer to the paper and then further away again. What happens?

Try different images and words to investigate how the writing or image on the card changes when you look through the glass of water.

This activity is a great refraction demonstration and simple science activity too!

If you like this activity, you’ll love my other elf tricks.

Don’t forget to check out my other Christmas science experiments and investigations too!

Make this activity even easier with my free template!

Reversing Signs Template

Grab the instruction sheet too!

Last Updated on December 6, 2022 by Emma VanstoneThe post Elf Tricks – Reversing Arrows appeared first on Science Experiments for Kids.