Light, Sound and Waves

Mirror Magic

Enrichment Activity for 5-11 11-14

What you need

  • A large framed mirror
  • Two firm supports to hold it up
  • A person to watch you


  1. Stand the mirror upright so that it just reaches the top of your legs. Hold it in place firmly with two supports - make sure it can't fall over
  2. Point your finger at the mirror - what do you see? How far behind the mirror does your finger appear to be?
  3. Straddle the mirror with one leg behind the mirror and one in front. Keep the leg behind the mirror on the ground and lift the one in front

Results and Explanation

To an onlooker it will seem as if you're floating or flying!
A mirror reverses the direction in which an image points in and out of it. People see the outside of your real leg lifted up and an image of the inside of it, so to them it looks like two legs lifted up.

These experiments have not been specifically safety tested for home use but we believe them to be safe if the instructions are followed. Adult supervision or direction is recommended as appropriate. All experiments are carried out at your own risk.

is formalised by Law of Reflection
can be exhibited by Progressive Wave
has the special case Total Internal Reflection
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