Exploring the Science of Light
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Spinning Your (Color) Wheels

Required Materials

  • Pushpin

  • Pencil eraser

  • Ruler

  • Scissors

  • Markers or crayons in all the ROY G BIV colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

  • Uncoated white paper plate (dessert or lunch size)

Activity Directions

  1. Trim the edge off the plate to create a flat white circle.
  2. Divide the circle into 6 equal sections, using the ruler and a pencil.
  3. Color each section a different ROY G BIV color.
  4. Pull the eraser out of the top of the pencil.
  5. Color side up, stick the pushpin through the circle’s center and into the eraser.
  6. Holding the handle of the pushpin, spin the circle on a hard surface like a top.
  7. What color(s) do you see? Does it matter which direction, or how fast, you spin the wheel? Does it matter what colors are next to each other?
  8. Have you ever held a prism or crystal up to the light to create a rainbow? In this activity, you just reversed the process. When you combine all the colors, they appear white, or a yellowish-white, like many light bulbs.

Learn more online:

Color Mixing
Color Wheel
Maxwell's Color Mixing

Want to Learn More? Read an article related to this activity:

To find this experiment and many more please download the Lighten Up! Discovering the Science of Light book, developed through a partnership with the Optical Society of America’s Foundation (OSAF) and the Girl Scouts of the USA.

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