Reflection & Refraction Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Reflection
  • 1:30 Refraction
  • 2:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Jon Hadley

Mary Jon has taught in an elementary school for nine years, and am currently working on my doctorate in curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Reflection and refraction are both important properties of light energy. When you look in the mirror you see a reflection of yourself. Using a magnifying glass to make smaller words appear larger is an example of refraction.


Have you ever walked outside at night and had to use a flashlight to see where you were going? Or perhaps the lights in your house went out, and you had to use a flashlight to get around in your home.

Did you know your flashlight was using reflection to direct the light coming from that tiny light bulb into a beam for you to see? Reflection is light bouncing off of a shiny object. Next time you pick up a flashlight, take a look at the area around the light bulb. You'll notice that it's a shiny silver color. This allows the light to bounce off the shiny material, and reflect back out to shine in any direction you point your flashlight. Since human eyes are not made like cat or dog eyes, we cannot see in the dark without extra help. Thank goodness for flashlights.

What about when you get up in the morning to brush your teeth and hair before getting started with your day? Do you look in the mirror to see if your teeth are getting clean or to make sure your hair looks good? Well, you are using reflection every time you use a mirror. If we understand that light travels in a straight path, and cannot go around objects, then we can see how light can bounce back in a straight path.

Picture of reflection of a swan in the water

Check out this picture of a swan. It looks like there are two swans, but there is only one. The shiny water reflects the light so that it looks like there's another swan looking up from the water. There are too many examples of reflection to mention, but keep an eye out for them as you go through your day. You'll probably be surprised at all the places you see reflections happening.

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