The Science of Color and Light

Janine Garrett Crown Academy
2128 S. St. Louis
Chicago IL 60623
(312) 534-1680


The main objectives are designed toward primary grades.

Students will be able to:
-Listen to a story about colors
-Recognize and identify happy/sad and winter/summer colors from the story
-Understand how people see colors
-Identify which colors stand out best from a distance
-Show the results of mixing colored lights
-Understand the phenomenon of persistance of vision

Materials Needed:

Human eyesight experiment
The class will work in two groups.
You will need : red, blue, purple, yellow and white paper

Color distance experiment
You will need: large squares of different colored paper
small squares of different colored paper and tape

Color and Light experiment
You will need: 3 flashlights, pieces of red, blue and green cellophane,
tape, white poster board.

Color Spinners
You will need: 4" diameter brown cardboard
pencil or dowel
paint or markers


Students will be introduced to the science of color and light by listening to a
story called Book of Colors by Margery W. Brown. The class will discuss what
are happy/sad colors and winter/summer colors in the story. The class will look
at two objects, a white electric light bulb and a red tomato. The students will
learn that the bouncing effect is called reflection. White is made of all
colors of the rainbow. A tomato looks red because it reflects red light and
absorbs the other light. Students will further understand the colors one sees
via the human eyesight test. Students will learn that we have special cells
that makeup part of the lining of the eyeball. They are called cones because of
the cone shape.
one cone > red light
one cone > green light
one cone > blue light
Cut out a small red square and tape onto a large white paper. Stare hard at the
drawing for a minute. Next stare at a blank piece of white paper. What color
do you see now? Repeat the same test with a different color square. Try to
identify all three cones. Now we will like to find out which colors stand out
best from a distance? Stick paper of one color onto different backgrounds, or
stick different colors onto the same background. Students will pair off into
groups. Ask a partner to hold up the different combinations at a distance.
Which combinations of colors stand out best?

Let's see what effects we get when mixing colored lights. Cut out pieces of
cellophane that are the right size to fit over the front of the flashlights.
Make one flashlight red, one blue and one green. In a darkened room, shine the
red and green flashlights on a white posterboard. A yellow will be produced.
Students will experiment and find out what colors they make? Finally, we would
like to know what happens when we spin two colors together. Draw a circle about
4 inches in diameter on the cardboard. Cut the circle out. Paint the cardboard
using two markers. Poke a starter hole in the center of the cardboard circle.
Use a dowel or pencil through the hole in the center of the circle. Spin the
spinner and watch what happens to the colors.

Performance Assessment:

Students will be able to discover how colors are formed. Students will be
able to define colors, cones, reflection. Students will be given 5 points
by orally responding to the following questions based on the four experiments.
1. What colors do you see?
2. Which combination of colors stand out best?
3. Which colors would you use for signs in a desert, a snowy mountain, or a
4. What colors are produced when two lights are mixed together?
5. What color is produced when two colors are spun together?


There are many activities one can do to explain color. Adjustments will need
to be made for each experiment. The experiments are human eye test, color
distance test, color light, color spinners.


Brown, Margery. Book of Colors. Orange, NJ. Just Us Books,Inc. 1991.
Taylor, Barbara. Over the Rainbow. New York. Random House. 1991.
Diehn, Gwen and Krautwurst, Terry. Science Crafts for Kids. New York.
Sterrling Inc. 1994.
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