Science of Sunblock

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
This is an activity (located on page 3 of the PDF under Stained Glass Activity) about nanotechnology making its way into everyday products, such as sunscreen, and how effective these invisible particles may be vs. their old-fashioned, non-nano counterparts. Learners will protect bags of color changing UV beads with sunscreens, one with nanoparticles and one without, and record which sunscreen is clearer and how well each one protects the beads. Also relates to linked video, DragonflyTV Nano: Stained Glass.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • color changing UV beads
  • snack size zipper lock bags
  • black construction paper
  • shoebox
  • stopwatch
  • sunscreen SPF 30 with zinc oxide
  • sunscreen SPF 30 with nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • Muscles and Skin
      • Health and Nutrition
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Solutions
    • Vibration and Waves
    • Light and Optics
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2008

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 741749