Science project

Spectrum Spinners

Research Questions:

  • How do our eyes perceive color?
  • How are colors derived from white light?

You can see beautiful colors everywhere you look! There is a lot of science behind the colors that you see. Color is the property that our eyes visually perceive and is derived from the spectrum of light. White light is a blend of all the spectrum colors which include red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Individual colors of white light can be seen by using a prism which separates the colors and, in turn, white light can be seen when the spectrum colors are combined in such a fashion as a spectrum spinner.


  • Markers or crayons in the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • White cardstock
  • A short, sharpened pencil

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Have an adult help you cut a 4-inch circle from white cardstock.
  2. Use the ruler to divide the circle into 7 equal sections. It should look like a pie cut into 7 equal pieces.
  3. Color each piece a different color in this order, going clockwise…red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
  4. Use a sharpened pencil to punch a small hole in the center of the circle. Push the pencil through the hole so that half the pencil is sticking out the top and the other half out the bottom.
  5. Now spin the pencil on a flat surface like you would a toy top. What do you observe about the color of the circle while it is spinning?
  6. As an extension think about the questions below. You may even want to try making a spinner with each of these color combinations…
    1. If the spinner was colored blue and red, what color would you see when you spun it?
    2. If the spinner was colored blue and yellow, what color would you see when you spun it?
    3. If the spinner was colored red and yellow, what color would you see when you spun it?

Terms/Concepts: Visible light; Color spectrum; Prism


Author: Angela Pike
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