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Kaleidoscope Investigation

In this activity, students investigate multiple reflections in a kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscopes work on the principle of multiple reflections. The mirrors reflect the images of objects inside, creating a symmetrical pattern.

When you look at your reflection in one mirror, you see light that has come from your face and bounced off the mirror. When there are two mirrors, you see the light that bounces off one mirror, and also the light that bounces from mirror to mirror before coming back to your eyes.

The closer the mirrors are together, the more reflections-of-reflections you see.

This is a recommended post-visit activity for a field trip to Science World.


  • Explain that light travels in a straight path.

  • Explain how light can be reflected.


  • Per Kaleidoscope

    2 flat mirrors
    Angle template (could be made by students)

Key Questions

  • What happens to the number of images, as the angle between the mirrors becomes smaller?

What To Do

  1. Tape the two mirrors together to make a mirror ‘book’.
  2. Copy the angle template.
  3. Line up the mirrors on the template so the angle between them is 120°. Put the bead between the mirrors. How many beads do you see? (you see 3)
  4. Change the angle to 90°. How many beads now? (you see 4)
  5. Repeat with 60° (you see 6), 45° (you see 8) and 30° (you see 12, if you can see inside!).


  • Have students make their own angle templates. Draw a thick line, and put it in the mirror book as shown. With the mirrors at 120°, you should see a triangle. Identify the shapes you see with the mirrors at different angles.