Science Fair Project Ideas Involving Light & Color

Written by jessica westover
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Science Fair Project Ideas Involving Light & Color
White light consists of seven different colours. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Colour is directly related to light. White light is made up of seven different colours. Colours are formed by the reflection of light. The colour black is created by the absorption of light. Students can come to understand this relationship between light and colour by assembling simple science fair projects that demonstrate these facts.

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Prism Rainbows

Set up a science fair project that illustrates the colours contained in white light. Place a white piece of poster board upright on a table as a background and set a prism in the centre. Lay a flashlight on its side and turn it on so it is shining through the prism toward the poster board. Adjust the angle of the prism until it splits the light into the colours of the spectrum onto the poster board. Explain to your audience that the colours hitting the background are found in the flashlight's ray of light and the prism is refracting or splitting the light.

Mixing Colored Light

Students can demonstrate the results of mixing coloured light to their classmates in this science fair project. Set up a white background by propping up a white poster board or hanging a piece of white fabric. Use tissue paper to cover the ends of three flashlights, one with red paper, one with blue paper and one with green paper. Shine each light individually on the background for the other students to see. Then shine two of the coloured flashlights on the same spot to mix the colours.

What is Color?

Assemble a science fair project that will explain what colour is. Set up a background that contains pieces of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, black and white construction paper. Explain to the class that these represent the colours of the light spectrum. Explain that these colours are formed by light being reflected off of their surfaces. Discuss the fact that the blue paper is blue because it absorbs all of the light colours except blue light, which it reflects. Explain that white is the absence of light and is formed because it reflects all colours of light. Black is formed because it absorbs all colours of light. Demonstrate this concept by covering a flashlight with different colours of tissue paper, turning off the lights and shining it on the coloured paper. Ask the class what colours they see now.

Coloured Shadows

This science fair project demonstrates how coloured light works together to make white light. Cover three flashlights or lamps individually with red, blue and green tissue paper. Set up a piece of white poster board as a background and shine all three lights onto the surface at once. Adjust the angle so the background appears light. Create the coloured shadows for classmates to see by placing an object such as an eraser, pencil, book or hand in front of the light. Coloured shadows should form on the background behind the object. Explain that the coloured shadows are formed as the object blocks one colour of light, leaving the other colours behind.

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