Nebula in a Jar

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this activity, learners will build a model of a nebula using cotton balls and colored water. Astronomers photograph nebulas and add colors to provide information about the nebula's composition. This activity uses low cost materials and can be done at home. Activity includes step-by-step instructions with pictures.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Jar with tight-fitting lid
  • Cotton balls
  • Acrylic paint or gel food coloring (at least two different colors)
  • Spoon
  • Water
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Paper towels


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Carnegie Science Center, 2021