Make a Green Gumball Black

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In this optics activity, learners use a shoebox, colored cellophane and sunlight to "change" the colors of gumballs. Learners will be surprised when the green and blue gumballs appear black! Use this activity to illustrate light reflection and the color spectrum. This activity includes an explanation of light absorption and reflection as well as two articles on color and light.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • A shoebox
  • A ruler
  • Scissors
  • Cellophane of several different colors
  • Tape
  • Several gumballs of different colors (white, red, blue, green, etc.)
  • A strong light source or sunny day


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Optical Society of America, 2008