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What Do You See?

In this demonstration, students may argue as they try to make sense of an ambiguous picture with two very different interpretations.

This illusion works because the image is ambiguous, which means there is just enough information for you to make sense of it in a couple of different ways. Our brain is usually able to make sense of the information it receives. In this case, however, there are two reasonable interpretations that can be made.

Objectives

  • Explain that the brain makes its interpretations based on past experiences.

Materials

  • Per Class or Group:
    Old/Young Woman template, printed on either an overhead sheet or on a large sheet of paper
    Duck to Rabbit template, printed on either an overhead sheet or on a large sheet of paper for the entire class to see.
    overhead projector (optional)

Key Questions

  • How old is the woman in the picture?What parts help you see the old woman? The young woman?
  • Who sees a young woman? Who sees and old woman?
  • How does your perception change when the images are rotated?
  • Why do you think we can see two different things? (If you concentrate on certain parts of the image, your brain will make sense of it in different ways.)
  • What parts help you see the old woman? The young woman?
  • How is the Duck to Rabbit image similar/different from the Old/Young Woman image? Why does the animal you see change when you rotate the image?

What To Do

  1. Show the students the Old/Young Woman image. Ask them whether they see a young woman or an old woman.
  2. Rotate the picture 180Degrees. Ask the students if this changes their perception of what they see.
  3. Show the students the Duck to Rabbit image. Ask how many people see the rabbit. Rotate the illusion so that the rabbit ears are pointing up.  Ask the students if this changes their perception of what they see.

Extensions

  • Record the votes of the students on what they see during the activity. Graph the results with the students to visualize the data.