Make a Prism

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In this activity, learners will make their own prism and use a glass of water to separate sunlight into different colors. Using a piece of cardboard with a small hole and a white piece of paper, learners will direct sunlight through the prism to make a rainbow. Step-by-step instructions with photos and safety measures are include. This activity needs a sunny day. Activity guide includes a "What's going on?" explanation and connections to relevant science concepts like slowing the speed of light & refraction, component color of white light, and how rainbows are formed in the atmosphere.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • drinking glass ( or glass or plastic prism)
  • large piece of cardboard (approxrimately 0.4m x 0.4m)
  • scissors
  • white sheet of paper
  • pencil
  • book
  • tape
  • water


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DIY Science Apps


  • , The Regents of the University of California, 2014

Funding Source:

  • NASA, NNX10AE05G