Geometric Optic Spinner

Geometric Optic Spinner lesson plan

Investigate how the eyes and brain work together then create your own optical illusions.

  • 1.

    Our brain is always trying to make sense of what we see. Research the process of sight. Examine the path that light rays travel as they are reflected from an object and reach the lens in your eyes. Learn more about the flexibility of the eye's lens that enables you to focus on things near and far, as well as to see things that you are not focusing on. Study how light hits the screen-like retina, and how that message is sent to the brain via the optic nerve.

  • 2.

    This elaborate system of seeing can be tricked and manipulated by optical illusions. Find information about the role of the brain in optical illusions.

  • 3.

    To create your own optical illusion, cut a plate-size circle from a sheet of acetate with Crayola® Scissors. Trace the circle on construction paper.

  • 4.

    Using Crayola Gel Markers, draw a geometric pattern on one side of the acetate. Use a straight edge to draw precise lines. The lines may be filled in or thicker, curved or straight, but they must all be part of a set pattern.

  • 5.

    Within the traced circle on the construction paper, draw a different geometric, repeating pattern with the same precision.

  • 6.

    Align the two circles, with the acetate on top. Poke a brass paper fastener through the middle of both sheets. Twist the acetate and watch the optical distortions happen before your eyes.


  • Students gather information about the parts of the human eye and explain how the sense of sight works.
  • Students explain the role of the brain in viewing optical illusions.
  • Students extend their understanding of vision by creating a geometric, graphic expression of their knowledge about how the eye and brain work when look at optical illusions.


  • Exchange Geometric Optic Spinners with classmates. Which designs are most effective? Which are less dazzling? Why?
  • Study more about the scientific principles underlying optical distortion. Determine which effect your artwork is employing--the Zollner or Moire. The Zollner Effect makes straight lines appear to bend if they intersect with or are seen against a backgroun
  • Study the artwork of M.C. Escher. Identify the many optical tricks he used in his woodblock prints.