How to make a functional eye model

Written by sarah elizabeth
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How to make a functional eye model
Make a model of the human eye to demonstrate how it works. (Human Prosthetic Eyes image by Sophia Winters from

The eye is a complex and important part of human anatomy and understanding how it works is a fundamental part of education for many students. It is simple to make a functional model of the eye to demonstrate how the eye works and show how an image is flipped from the retina to how we perceive it.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Balloon
  • Newspaper
  • Water
  • Flour
  • Aluminium foil
  • Waxed paper
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Glue
  • Permanent marker
  • Modelling clay
  • Piece of wood

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  1. 1

    Mix a paper mache mixture. Take 1 part flour and 5 parts water, then mix and boil it together for about five minutes.

  2. 2

    Blow up the balloon and with a permanent marker, draw a circle with a diameter of 2 inches on one end and a larger circle of 3 1/2 inches on the other end.

  3. 3

    Cover the balloon with paper mache, leaving the circles untouched. To cover the balloon with paper mache, take 1-by-5-inch strips of newspaper and coat them in the mixture. Cover the balloon with three layers of strips, making sure that it is smooth. Let it dry overnight.

  4. 4

    Pop the balloon, cover the small hole with aluminium foil and tape it in place, making sure there are no edges that will let the light come in. Poke a small hole in the centre of the foil.

  5. 5

    Cover the larger hole with waxed paper and tape it in place. Make sure that all edges are covered so that no light can get in.

  6. 6

    Paint the eye over the newspaper, foil and waxed paper.

  7. 7

    Mount the eye on a piece of wood with modelling clay. Take a large clump of clay and glue and mould it into the base of the eye. Glue it onto the wood base.

  8. 8

    Going into a dark room with one window open will demonstrate the way that the eye works. Place the model in front of a window and the images outside will be upside down on the waxed paper, just as they are on the retina.

Tips and warnings

  • Smooth out the paper mache while still wet to get a nice eye shape.
  • Be careful when handling the dry project; the shell is very delicate.

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