Release the Rainbow

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In this activity, learners create a water prism to break light into the seven colors of the rainbow. This is a quick activity that can be used to demonstrate what happens when light is refracted and how a mirror can amplify the visible spectrum. This activity includes an explanation about light refraction and an article about rainbows.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration


Materials List (per student)

  • A sunny window
  • A big bowl full of water
  • A small mirror
  • A sheet of white paper


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
    • Light and Optics
      • Lenses and Mirrors
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Optical Society of America, 2008