Science Experiment for Kids: Light Box Magic




About: Mom of 3 under 5, blogger, has a passion for early childhood education, loves Jesus, has a hollow leg, wants to help her children become better than herself.

Create a fun light show with your children and teach them about the attributes of light at the same time.

Learning Objective: Introduce kids to the scientific method and light refraction.

Age: Preschool - Elementary

by True Aim

Step 1: Motivate

Get your children excited for the experiment by letting them watch this amazing video about how people use light refraction to light their homes.  To learn more go to 1 Liter of Light.

Step 2: Gather Materials

Optional: Painting supplies, Food Coloring, Bleach, Foil, Cups that fit over bottles.

Step 3: (Optional) Let the Kids Paint the Box

Step 4: Fill the Bottles With Water. for More Fun Add Food Coloring to Some of the Bottles.

I recommend regular sized bottles; around 16oz. Mine were a little small.  If you are going to keep them for a while then you can put bleach in them, but I would skip it.  If you do put bleach in make sure you tape them up so that children cannot unscrew the lids.

Step 5: Trace the Bottom of the Bottles on the Top of the Box and Cut Holes.

You can also put tinfoil on the top of the box to help the light reflect into the bottles. 

Step 6: Cut a Hole in the Side of the Box to Look Inside.

I recommend cutting a smaller window than I did or just eye holes.

Step 7: Push Bottles Into Holes and Let the Experimenting Begin!

My Daughter put her hands over the bottles to create a "light show".
I brought some cups to help her out.

Step 8: Explain the Science Behind It

When light from the sun hits a solid object, like the cup, it is absorbed.  When light hits the water in the bottle, it bends in all different directions.  It bends because the water makes the light slow down.  This is called refraction.  The water makes the light spread out in the box.  I also gave the example of being by the pool.  I told the kids we have to wear lots of sunscreen by the pool because the water makes the light spread out and we can burn easily from the light.  You can also show the children what the light does when there are just holes in the top of the box and no water bottle.

What do you think about this experiment? Have you done an experiment with light refraction?

If you liked this post please visit me at True Aim for more fun learning activities for kids.

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9 Discussions


5 years ago on Introduction

Great fun, really quick to do. Rather than the slit we lay a blanket over the side so we could all stick our heads in. Also added glycerin and glitter to the water for added sparkle.


6 years ago on Introduction

thanks for the's going to help some families i know :-)


6 years ago on Introduction

That looks great! Rather than wait for the cardboard manna that is a refrigerator box (or any other giant appliance), perhaps use the magic and mystery of 123D Make to manipulate cardboard into a much-larger light box? That'd set you up for a cool camera obscura project, too.


6 years ago on Introduction

Awesome project!

If you had a really big box, you could replace that viewing slot with a door to get inside.

1 reply