This disappearing color wheel science experiment is a fun way for kids to explore light and physics while learning about Newton’s color wheel.
Color Wheel Science Experiment for Kids
Isaac Newton, at the young age of 23, made a discovery that white sunlight was made up of multiple colors when split. When he recombined the colored rays from the prism, he found that it regenerated the white light. The color wheel was the result of these experiments with color and light!
This science experiment is a great way to show what happens when the colors are blended back together and recombined.
This activity is easy to setup and the kids will have a blast trying to spin the wheel fast enough to make the colors blend to white.
Make sure this activity is done with adult supervision.
Disappearing Color Wheel Supplies
- 6 markers or crayons
- Template (Get printable at bottom of post) or Plastic Cup
Tips for success: We found that coloring with crayons worked better than coloring with markers
Disappearing Spinning Wheel Instructions
- Print the color wheel template or draw a circle on a plain white sheet of paper using a cup. If you draw the circle yourself you will then want to split the circle into 6 sections using a ruler.
- You can use any colors, but this experiment works better with red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple in that order.
- Cut out the wheel and then cut the same size circle out of cardboard.
- Glue the color wheel to the cardboard.
- Poke two tiny holes near the center of the cardboard.
- Cut a 3 to 4 foot piece of string.
- Insert the string through each hole and then tie the ends together.
- Wind the string in a similar manner as you would use a jump rope. Then stop spinning and pull the string a little tight.
- Once the spinning starts to slow down you will want to pull tight and then loosen the string. It becomes a little bit of a rhythm challenge to get the timing right of when to pull tight and when to loosen your hold on the string.
As you spin, do you notice that the colors start to blend together and become white?
How does this simple physics activity for kids work?
When the colors are rotated really fast, they blend together and fade to white. Isaac Newton showed that sun light was a combination of the primary colors of a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. We did this science experiment with 6 different colors, but you can also use just red, green and blue and it will work as well.
Isaac Newton used prisms to split the sun light into multiple colors. Then to prove the colors weren’t being added by the first prism, he isolated each color and refracted it into a second prism.
He was able to then recombine the colors back into white in another prism. Confirming that white was not a pure color, but rather made up of multiple colors!
Overall, Newton’s disappearing color wheel experiment is a fun and educational activity that is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages. By conducting this experiment, kids can learn about the science of light and color, and have fun exploring how different colors combine into white light.
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