Transparent Gelatin

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In this optics activity, learners explore how they can make gelatin stop light, but not stop them from seeing fruit suspended within. Learners will discover that gelatin contains large protein molecules that scatter light. Learners will also discover how to make the light reflect internally. Use this activity to illustrate how light reflects and refracts. This resource includes links to articles describing both phenomena.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
4 to 24 hours

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • A flavored gelatin dessert (preferably a light color such as orange or lemon), made with water
  • Square or rectangular clear glass baking dish
  • A flashlight (preferably a focusable flashlight, which can be adjusted so that all the light is focused into one bright spot or spread evenly throughout the field of illumination)


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

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

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


  • Cobb, Vicki ; Cobb, Josh


  • All rights reserved, Optical Society of America, 2008