Colored Shadows Investigation

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This activity (located on page 3 of the PDF under GPS: Light and Color Activity) is a full inquiry investigation into mixing colors with light. Groups of learners will set up colored lights in a darkened room and record the color of shadows cast by each color. They will continue to collect data as they experiment with combinations of multiple colored lights and produce a data table to organize their findings. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV GPS: Light and Color.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • colored spotlights, such as those available at a hardware or home improvement store. One each of red, green, blue, and yellow.
  • desk lamps, one for each spotlight
  • a power strip, to plug all the desk lamps into
  • a white bed sheet to act as a screen, or a plain white wall
  • a room that can be darkened


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
    • Light and Optics
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
      • Sunlight and Color
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • , Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2006

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 515566