Disappearing Ghost Eggs | Science Experiment

Call them vanishing, disappearing or invisible — just know that our Disappearing Ghost Eggs are spooky because you can't see them in water!

It looks like an ordinary glass of water — crystal clear water. But hiding just below the surface of the water is an amazing collection of large jelly marbles that become invisible when they are submerged in water. Our vanishing jelly marbles become invisible due to an identical index of refraction with the liquid. In other words, they vanish like ghosts! As you’ll see, there’s more to this paranormal experiment than meets the eye.

Invisible Polymer Water Ball Experiment How-To

•Place four plastic cups on a table. Fill each cup three-fourths full with room temperature water.

•Find the package of coloring tablets in your kit. They’re sort of like food coloring but won’t stain.

•Drop a different-colored coloring tablet into each of three cups, leaving the fourth cup with plain water (no color tablet).  For the best results, try using two of each color tablet in each cup. Watch the water bubble and change color.

•After all the colors have stopped bubbling and fizzing, measure approximately one teaspoon of marbles. Pour them into each of the three cups. Pour one teaspoon of marbles into the cup of uncolored water, too.

•Soak the marbles for at least three hours, checking on them every so often to check on their progress. (Overnight is even better.)

Make sure to observe the changes in shape and size; as they grow, the marbles will take some unique shapes along the way. Your scientists can point out all the different shapes that they recognize. Our marbleologists have noticed everything from brains to those geodesic marbles that are so famous at EPCOT in Disney World! Your invisible polymer water balls should reach their maximum growth potential in about five to six hours. Leaving them to soak overnight is even better.

A Ghoulish Spin on Our Ghastly Ghost Egg Experiment 

Meanwhile, have your scientists hunt inside the bag of marbles for the single marble that they think will have the biggest growing potential. Drop it into a separate clear cup.

Fill the cup nearly all the way to the top with water and let it soak for at least six hours or overnight. Using a ruler, measure the size of the jelly marble after it has absorbed all that water. Then, have your assistants draw a picture of a marble both before and after it took the plunge.

Experiment Materials

  • Ghost Eggs
  • Water
  • Clear containers
  • Food coloring or Atomic Glow

Invisible Polymer Water Ball Experiment How-To

•Place four plastic cups on a table. Fill each cup three-fourths full with room temperature water.

•Find the package of coloring tablets in your kit. They’re sort of like food coloring but won’t stain.

•Drop a different-colored coloring tablet into each of three cups, leaving the fourth cup with plain water (no color tablet).  For the best results, try using two of each color tablet in each cup. Watch the water bubble and change color.

•After all the colors have stopped bubbling and fizzing, measure approximately one teaspoon of marbles. Pour them into each of the three cups. Pour one teaspoon of marbles into the cup of uncolored water, too.

•Soak the marbles for at least three hours, checking on them every so often to check on their progress. (Overnight is even better.)

Make sure to observe the changes in shape and size; as they grow, the marbles will take some unique shapes along the way. Your scientists can point out all the different shapes that they recognize. Our marbleologists have noticed everything from brains to those geodesic marbles that are so famous at EPCOT in Disney World! Your invisible polymer water balls should reach their maximum growth potential in about five to six hours. Leaving them to soak overnight is even better.

A Ghoulish Spin on Our Ghastly Ghost Egg Experiment

Meanwhile, have your scientists hunt inside the bag of marbles for the single marble that they think will have the biggest growing potential. Drop it into a separate clear cup.

Fill the cup nearly all the way to the top with water and let it soak for at least six hours or overnight. Using a ruler, measure the size of the jelly marble after it has absorbed all that water. Then, have your assistants draw a picture of a marble both before and after it took the plunge.

How Does It Work

What Happened in this Jelly Marble Experiment?

Wow! Those tiny, pebble-like balls filled up on water and transformed into tons of gooey, slimy, shimmery clear jelly marbles!

If you allow your marbles to soak overnight, when you come back to them in the morning most of the water should be absorbed. If there is any extra water still there, simply pour it off.

Stick your hand in the cup of jelly marbles and grab three. Lay them out on the table on a piece of paper towel. Remember, they’re safe to touch!

Tell your young scientists that the marbles are now hydrated. This means that they have absorbed as much water as they possibly can. When hydrated, these amazing little jelly marbles can grow up to 11 times their original size.

After you’ve determined how large your marbles have grown, ask your young scientists if their predictions about the shape of the marbles were correct. Let them know that incorrect predictions (hypotheses) are okay — this is all part of the learning process. Scientists make hypotheses that turn out to be wrong all the time!

The Ghost Marble

Have your young scientists take a look at that single clear ghost marble that they left floating in the clear cup. Hey! Where’d it go?

Hold the cup up to the light and look at the water very carefully.  Can you see something that faintly looks like a jelly marble?

Slowly pour off the water until that elusive clear jelly marble mysteriously appears.

The marble takes on a ghostly appearance because it is 99% water. You can barely see the outline because the light passing through it is refracted (bent) by the edges of the marble. The more you touch the marble, the more visible it becomes because of the oil and dirt on your fingers.

Take It Further

How Does this Spooky Paranormal Experiment Work?

Ghost eggs are more commonly known as jelly marbles. These polymer jelly marbles start out as hard crystals. They are made from a superabsorbent polymer material that absorbs 300 times its weight in water. These hydrophilic (water loving) spheres are approximately 99% water. If you look closely, you can barely see the outline of the sphere in the bowl of water. That’s because the light that passes through the sphere is only refracted (or bent) by the edge of the sphere. Without this refraction along the edges, those clear marbles would seem to vanish altogether. In other words, the water-filled marbles become invisible due to an identical index of refraction with the water in the bowl. The secret is to keep those clear marbles clean and free of oil from your skin. The more you touch them, the less invisible they become because. That’s because dirt and oil on your fingers are transferred to the surface of the sphere, which also reflect the light to reveal the sphere.

From Halloween Fun to Classroom Learning Experiments

Our Disappearing Ghost Eggs experiment is great for everything from Halloween-themed party activities (have your guests put their hands in a bowl of jelly marbles and tell ‘em they’re eyeballs! Ew!) to classroom learning experiments about hydrophilic materials and the use of polymers. Looking for other great Halloween party or activity ideas? Check out our best Halloween party ideas for some ghoulish good fun!

Ghost Marble Fun

Our jelly water marble experiment is a fun, hands-on way to make science fun and accessible, which is the mission of Steve Spangler Science. These invisible polymer water balls are a great way to show your kids and students that not everything is as it seems. Don’t miss our other super-fun hands-on activities in our online experiment library, where every experiment is guaranteed to get ooohs and ahhhs from your audience.