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Light and Color by Peter, Emma, Aaron, Ixchel, and Kaitlyn

We're Peter, Emma, Aaron, Ixchel, and Kaitlyn, and we're in our school's science club. Our teacher gave us a special assignment. We need to come up with a colorful art display that doesn't use paints! We went to the most colorful place we know in San Francisco, a cool museum called the Exploratorium. Our question: how can we produce colorful art, without using paint?

What did we do?
We saw lots of light and color exhibits at the Exploratorium, so we re-created some in our art exhibit. We used colored lamps to produces colored shadows by mixing light! We found out how to reflect light of a moving surface, like the Magic Wand exhibit. And we found out we could make rainbows of color with things like prisms and even CDs!

What did we find out?
When we tried to make a purple shadow out of red and blue lamps, we didn't get the result we wanted. When we added a yellow lamp to the mix, then we made a purple shadow. That's wacky! We found that prisms and CDs both bend white light in a way that brings out the colors of the rainbow. We built a cool CD sculpture that looked awesome!

What can you do?
  • Look for colored spotlights at your local hardware store, and try making your own shadow wall. Mixing light isn't quite the same as mixing paint, so figure out which combinations you need in order to make a green shadow, or an orange, or just about any color.
  • Old CDs can be used to make very colorful rainbow displays. Find some old CDs and make a sculpture of your own. Make it the most interesting shape you can. Then go to a darkened room, and shine a flashlight of spotlight onto your sculpture. Look for cool rainbow patterns on the walls and ceiling!
  • Use this physical science investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
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Light and Color

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