Gelatin Prism

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In this activity, learners make prisms from gelatin. Learners then shine light through the prisms and discover what happens. This activity introduces learners to the idea of refraction. If learners use a white light source, this activity also shows them how white light is actually made up of many colors. Adult supervision recommended.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • Knox Gelatin, 21-grams (3-packets)
  • Glycerine, 5-mL
  • Razor blade or suitable cutting implement
  • Distilled water
  • Sandwich plastic container or similar smooth-bottomed container
  • Hot plate
  • Light pen or laser pen
  • Stirrers (popsicle sticks)
  • Beaker, 250-mL
  • Sandwich-sized zipper-type plastic bags
  • 100 mL graduated cylinder


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Lenses and Mirrors
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
      • Sunlight and Color

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Goates, Wayne


  • All rights reserved, Polymer Science Learning Foundation, 2003