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Spherical Reflections

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    The Exploratorium

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Spherical Reflections

In this art meets science activity, learners pack silver, ball-shaped ornaments in a single layer in a box to create an array of spherical reflectors. Learners can use this as a tool to study the properties of spherical mirrors while creating colorful mosaic reflections. This is a great optics activity to use during the holiday season or any time of year.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Silver Christmas tree balls (hooks and collars removed)
  • A box with sides higher than the diameter of the balls
  • A sheet of Styrofoam (cooked oatmeal which has been cooled can be used as a more ecological substitute)
  • Black construction paper or flat black paint (Be sure to use latex paint if the paint is to be used on the styrofoam. Oil-based paint will dissolve the styrofoam.)


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

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, The Exploratorium,

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation
  • California Department of Education
  • NEC Foundation of America


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  • Thumbnail STEAM by Alicia C on 2012-10-07