Pixel Tube

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In this STEAM activity, learners create a "pixel tube" to explore reflections of light and color mixing. This device, made of rolled up shiny materials inside of a carboard tube, allows learners to see shifting shapes and patterns that are the result of reflected light mixing and mingling in interesting ways. Activity includes step-by-step instructions with pictures, an explanation of the science behind the activity, suggested extensions, and teacher tips.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 8.5 x 11 inch (A4) construction (or other heavyweight) paper
  • Transparent tape
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Mylar sheets (or any similar reflective material, such as potato chip bags or aluminum foil)
  • Plastic cling wrap
  • Wax (or tracing) paper
  • Optional: Two rubber bands


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

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Access Rights:

  • Free access