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Light & Color - Color Disc (Sara Wilson)


Sara Wilson

Principle(s) Illustrated

  1. Electromagnetic Spectrum
  2. Reflection of light
  3. Nature of Science


  • 7.6.b - Students know that for an object to be seen light emitted by it or scattered from it must be detected by the eye.
  • 7.6.f - Students know that light can be reflected, refracted, transmitted and absorbed by matter.
  • 7.7.c - Communicate the logical connections among hypothesis, science concepts, tests conducted, data collected and conclusion drawn from the scientific evidence.

Questioning Script

Prior knowledge & experience:

Students should know from personal experience that colored pencils or crayons can blend to make a mix of different colors.

Students can benefit from knowing how objects are seen and the relationship between light and color before starting but it is not needed if focusing on the nature of science for the activity.

Root question:

When you get your color disc spinning really fast what do you think you will see? Prepare to make some observations.

Target response:

Students who know about light and color will hopefully know that the blending of the three should produce white. 

Students who only know about the blending of color from experience with crayons will likely say black or brown.

Common Misconceptions:

Common misconceptions include that being able to see color is caused by crayons/colored pencils not by the reflection/absorption of certain wavelengths of light.

One of the challenges with this activity is the variability of colored pencil/crayon pigments that cause a range of different colors (often not white)

Photographs and Movies

Put all photos in the class Picasa Album and reference here.  Do not upload the photos directly to this wiki as there is not enough memory in the website.

Put all movies in your own Youtube account.  Make sure that the account is set for public viewing. Insert the Youtube videos here. 


Newton color disc

  1. The Science of Light website - includes three activities to use relating to light and color.
  2. Notes on Light and Color - this website has extensive notes on the interactions of light and color.
  3. NASA Visible Waves - details on different electromagnetic waves.