There's Always Room For JELL-O

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In this activity, learners cut wells in JELL-O© and load the wells with different detergent solutions. With this simple digest, they observe that many, but not all detergents contain an active ingredient that breaks down JELL-O©. This ingredient is an enzyme which is specific for the breakdown of proteins, of which gelatin is just one example. Learners record observations and measurements as well as answer questions about their findings. Use this activity to relate to the digestive system or how detergent products work to clean surfaces.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
4 to 24 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

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


Materials List (per student)

  • 1 petri dish containing JELL-O©
  • 1 marking pen
  • 1 plastic straw section
  • 1 metric ruler
  • 1 toothpick
  • Access to a variety of detergent solutions each with its own pipette
  • Access to distilled water with a pipette included for the control well


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
    • Human Body
      • Digestion
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemical Reactions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
      • Changes of Phase
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
    • Measurement
      • Circles
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Thompson, Martha ; Kilmer, Elaine