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Binocular Vision Eye Science

In this family STEM activity, put your eyes to the test... alone and as a working unit! How do your eyes work together to help you see?

Binocular Vision Eye Science / Family Science Activity

Eye Science

Your eyes help you see what is in front of you, but have you ever thought about how your eyes work together (with your brain) to make sense of what you see? We have two eyes, but together our brain processes a single image. How does this work?

When you look through a pair of binoculars, you place each eye in front of one of the eye pieces. You look through, and you see a single image. Without binoculars, our eyes work the same way&mdashs;we have binocular (2-eyed) vision. That our eyes are a few inches apart is really important in understanding human vision. The separation of our eyes helps us see distance, dimension, and depth. How well our eyes (and brain) interpret variables like depth can make a difference in how easy or difficult it is to do something like catch a ball.

You may have tested your eyes in the past by focusing on a single spot in the distance, marking it with your finger in the air, and then closing or covering one eye. With one eye closed, your finger likely appears to shift or move. Close the other eye instead, and you may find your finger shifts or moves again. (You may find the shift is more noticeable with one or the other eye closed.)

This week, kids extend this kind of eye testing to better understand how our eyes take in "depth" and how our brain makes sense of the information from each eye to give us a sense of "depth." In this week's science activity, kids set up a simple line of markers on a table and then put their eyes to the test. Follow up these informal eye tests with some camera photos to demonstrate what each eye sees, separately, compared to what the eyes see when they work together.

The following Science Buddies activity on the Scientific American website has all the information you need to do this science activity with your students at home: See Change: 2 Eyes, 1 Picture.

Making Connections

For another fun family science activity about vision, see the Spot the Dot Eye Science project.

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