For ages 8 and older.
Have you ever noticed the colors of the rainbow or the colors that sometimes
appear on the wall when light passes through a glass of water? In 1666, Sir
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) conducted a series of experiments that showed that
"white" light is actually a combination of colors mixed together. In 1704,
Newton published his findings in a book titled Opticks.
You will need
- red, green, and blue transparent cellophane
- sheet of white paper
What to do
Cut the cellophane into pieces large enough to be wrapped around the flashlight
Darken the room but not so much that you cannot see the different colors of
the light filters (the cellophane).
Turn on the flashlight and shine it on the paper. Note the color of the
Place a colored filter over the flashlight lens. Make sure the filter is
placed flat (no bunches) over the lens. Hold the flashlight about 2 inches from
the paper. What color do you see? How does it compare to the color of the
Experiment with different-colored filters. Take notes about the different
things you try. What happens to the color of the light when only one filter is
used? Next, try holding two different filters over the lens. What happens? Try
different color combinations.
Make a prediction. What do you think will happen to the color of the light
if you place a red, green, and blue filter over the lens at the same time? What
color is the light on the paper? Try placing the filters over the lens in a
different order. Does the order change the color of the light in any way?
Record and compare your results. Why do you think you got the color you did?
Science for Fun: Light and Color
by Gary Gibson. Copper Beech, 1995.
Includes simple experiments relating to the basic principles of light and
Science, Optics and You
Provides background information, hands-on activities, and interactive simulations regarding several aspects of optics and light.
The Colors of White Light
is a form of energy. What we see as colors are actually different wavelengths
of light. For example, light with a long wavelength appears red, while light
with a short wavelength appears violet. White light contains all the different
wavelengths of visible light.