Optical Illusions: Is It Or Is It Not? (LS-DI-567)

There is always a way to communicate and educate.

My name is Natalija Budinski, and I work as a Maths teacher in the Primary and Secondary school Petro Kuzmjak in Ruski Krstur, Serbia. This school year my school got an opportunity to take part in the Serbian Ministry of Education’s project which established to coordinate work with migrant students. We have applied with the project called “STEM tolerance classroom”. The main idea of the project is to work with students from a migrant background and students from vulnerable groups on developing competences in STEM subjects, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Visual learning

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to apply part of our activities at the Immigrant Centre in Sombor, in the North-West part of Serbia. We have visited the Centre and found out that there are not many children in the Centre – they usually stay for a shorter period and so they have few possibilities to have access to education in a local school. Also, we found out that they speak neither Serbian nor English, so it is quite challenging to work with them. This information did not discourage us, and together with my colleague, a Biology teacher, we held a workshop for students from a migrant background. For this occasion, we have prepared a workshop about optical (visual) illusion.

Optical (visual) illusions

Optical illusion is a concept that connects mathematics, biology and art. It is easy to explain the concept since it is (or may seem) obvious. Optical illusions are illusions caused by the visual system. They are the result of a visual perception that arguably appears to differ from reality. Our eyes are sometimes limited in sending information to our brain.

There are different kinds of optical illusions. Richard Gregory proposed one way of optical illusion classification. According to him, the three main classes of optical illusions are: physical, physiological, and cognitive illusions. Each class of optical illusion has four kinds: ambiguities, distortions, paradoxes, and fictions.

Students at our workshop liked the examples and took part in the activities. Even without knowing each other’s language, just with a few phrases in Arabic, we explained the concept of visual illusion to the workshop attendants who were five Syrian boys aged 12-14 years. The activities at the workshop can be seen below. They showed great interest and took part in activities and solving tasks.

We have proved that enthusiasm and intention to convey knowledge to students are the very important in the educational process.

Activities of the students at the workshop
Activities of the students at the workshop

To explain the art and optical illusions, we had prepared materials for the hands-on activities, videos, and Europeana resources and found interesting paintings that show beautiful aesthetics of visual illusion. These pictures can be found here on Europeana.

Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:

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CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Rippl-Rónai Megyei Hatókörű Városi Múzeum – Kaposvár.

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