Small, or far away?

Experiment with your perception of distance and size by making the amazing Ames room illusion.

a girl looking into a cardboard box
Sahara with her homemade Ames room, Image credit: The Royal Institution


Make your drawings look three-dimensional, and build an Ames room illusion.

ExpeRiment with your ability to recognise how small or far away things are.

Learn how we make assumptions about size and distance based on experience.

About this activity

We know that a toy car is much smaller than a real one, but when you hold a car up to your eye and compare it to a car in the distance, they can look the same size.

We intuitively understand this, but thinking about why this happens is the start of a fun experiment to investigate how our brains make sense of the three dimensional world around us. In this video, Dwain and Sahara learn a simple trick to make their drawings look three-dimensional, and then build an Ames room: a classic illusion that plays a trick on your mind with strange proportions.