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In this optics activity, learners explore color by examining color dots through colored water and the light of a flashlight. Learners create a data chart of the color combinations they test and the colors they observe. Use this activity to introduce learners to the color spectrum and wavelengths.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • 1 piece of white paper
  • 4 clear plastic cups
  • Red, yellow, green and blue food coloring
  • Pencil
  • Flashlight
  • Newspaper
  • 4 cotton swabs
  • Water
  • Ruler


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


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Walter, Pamela J. ; Paddock, Bruce T.


  • All rights reserved, Optical Society of America, 2008