Shimmering Lenses

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In this activity, learners use Jell-O to explore lenses. Learners cut Jell-O into convex and concave lens shapes and examine how light exits each lens in a darkened room. They compare the rounded shape lenses to a rectangular lens. Learners also explore different angles of light entry.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
4 to 24 hours

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • 3 packets of Jell-O; (lighter colors and sugar- free varieties work best)
  • Hot water (read package for amount)
  • Bowl
  • Spoon or whisk
  • Baking pan (8" x 8")
  • Refrigerator (clear a space for the pan)
  • Table knife
  • Cutting board
  • Flashlight
  • Black electrical tape


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Lenses and Mirrors
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • 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