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Rainbow Film

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    NISE Network

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Rainbow Film

In this activity, learners use clear nail polish to create a beautiful iridescent pattern on black paper. Learners discover that a thin film creates iridescent, rainbow colors. This is a very fun and engaging activity for learners, and a great way to talk about how nanoscale structures often affect a material's properties. SAFETY: Do this activity in a well-ventilated area.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Shallow pan
  • Strips of black paper (Bristol is best, but construction paper works)
  • Clear nail polish (no glitter or sparkles; regular, not fast-drying)
  • Pencil
  • Place to let paper dry


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
      • Vibration and Waves
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Sciencenter, ©2012

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0532536
  • National Science Foundation, 0940143


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