User login

Lose a Glass in a Glass

Source Institutions

    Optical Society of America

Add to listGo to activity
Lose a Glass in a Glass

In this optics activity, learners use paint thinner to make a small jar seem to disappear inside a larger jar. Use this activity to demonstrate the role of indexes of refraction in our ability to differentiate the appearance of different materials. Note: adult supervision is recommended for this activity because it involves paint thinner.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • A clear glass jar free of labels or other marking patterns
  • A smaller clear jar that fits inside the larger one
  • Paint thinner - also known as petroleum distillate


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Cobb, Vicki; Cobb, Josh


  • All Rights Reserved, Optical Society of America, ©2008