Optical illusion presentation to take over Reiman Gardens


Logan Metzger / Iowa State Daily

Danielle Wirth, lecturer of sociology, presented a lecture on ecofeminism at Reiman Gardens during the September “Nature at Noon.”

Anneke Johnson

Optical illusions can fascinate the eye, and this week they will be on display at Iowa State’s Reiman Gardens.

Xander Toftness, graduate student studying cognitive psychology, will be giving an interactive optical illusions presentation at Reiman Gardens from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday.

Toftness described the upcoming event as being interactive and fun for all.

“There will be interactive stuff, so people will be able to follow along, I’ll be handing out optical illusions that they’ll be able to interact with at the table, and then there will also be optical illusions in the presentation itself that everyone will be able to interact with as a group,” Toftness said. “So, it should be appropriate for everybody.”

Toftness said he hopes the presentation is both fun and educational.

“I’m hoping to sneak a little science in there, to understand how there are individual differences in the ways that people perceive the world,” Toftness said. “And I hope that people have a lot of fun interacting with the optical illusions, and might be inspired to, you know, think about their own brain a little bit more.”

Toftness is one of Reiman Gardens’ 2019 Science Communication Fellows and Sara Merritt, education manager at Reiman Gardens, explained the significance of this title.

“We offer this fellowship every year to scientists, to train them how to talk to the general public,” Merritt said. “And we do that by training them in informal education and communication, and then we have them create a hands-on activity that they can present at public programs.”

Merritt said Toftness’ research fit well with Reiman Gardens’ current theme.

“He does study visual phenomenon in the brain, so optical illusions is one of the things he focuses on,” Merritt said. “And so, because our theme for 2019 has been toys and games, we figured this was a really good tie-in with our program.”

Toftness’ presentation is a “Nature at Noon” event. “Nature at Noon” is a series of events offered on the second Thursday of every month at Reiman Gardens, during which researchers are given the opportunity to present their work.