Classroom Activities on Binocular & Monocular Cues
Easiest: Brief Exercise
- Introduce students to a short "eye catching" exercise when they arrive for lab time. Ask the students to put one pencil in each hand. They should hold the pencils an arm's length away in front of them. Direct the students to connect their pencil erasers end-to-end, horizontally or vertically, while keeping one eye closed. Ask them to repeat this process with both eyes open. Discuss the differences in monocular and binocular depth perception.
Easy: Quantify the Exercise
- Divide the class into groups and have each group create eye patches out of black paper and yarn. Take the groups outside for a game of catch. Designate one student as catcher, another as pitcher and a third as data recorder. Direct the pitcher to stand 10 feet from the catcher and throw the ball 20 times. Instruct the catcher to use one hand to catch the ball, and to open both eyes for the first 10 throws and close one eye for the next 10 throws. Ask the students to record and discuss their observations.
Moderate: Experiment with an Illusion
- Conduct an experiment that will enable students to understand NASA's considerations when designing helmets that do not hinder or warp an astronaut's vision. Divide the class into groups of four. Have each group place a glass of water on a flat surface and stand a pencil about a foot behind the glass. Suggest that students take turns holding the pencil.
Direct the students to peer through the glass at the pencil, then write down how many pencils they observe. The students should view two pencils, one of which is an illusion. Ask the students to look at the pencil again, only with the left eye closed. Which pencil disappeared? Tell the students to try the exercise again, but close the right eye. The left pencil should disappear. Explain how images from the left eye are transmitted to the right brain while images from the right eye are processed by the left brain.
Challenging: Compare Human and Bird Vision
- Ask the class why birds have more accurate vision than other animals. Divide the class into three groups. Ask the first group to identify and report on birds with monocular vision, such as owls. Instruct the second group to cover birds with binocular vision, such as hawks, eagles and falcons. The third group can research birds that display a combination of monocular and binocular vision. Have the groups discuss why and how birds use their eyes, then compare the strengths and weaknesses of each type of vision.