St. Patrick’s Day Experiment: Disappearing Color Wheel


  • Glue

  • Ruler

  • Pencil

  • Scissors

  • String

  • Sharpies (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple)

  • Cardboard

  • Plastic cup

  • Disposable plate

  • Adult supervision

Now Follow These Steps:

First:  Use the scissors to cut the edge off of the paper plate. Then on the big circle piece of plate, trace the mouth of the cup with a pencil.

Second:  Use a ruler and pencil to divide the circle into 6 even sections.  Color each section a different color using the 6 sharpies. Cut out the circle.

Third:  Use the cup to trace another circle on the cardboard.  Cut it out.  Glue the colorful circle on the cardboard with the colored side out. This is your color wheel!

Next: Poke two small holes through the wheel, near the center of the circle. Cut a 36″ piece of string. Feed the string through both holes and tie the ends together. Wind the string by moving the wheel in a motion similar to a jump rope.

Finally: Pull the string tight to get the wheel spinning.

Here’s What’s Happening!

Where do you think the colors went? Did a leprechaun catch the rainbow? The rapid spinning of the disappearing color wheel causes the colors to “blend” into each other. This blending creates the illusion that they're actually white! How does that happen? Light and the color white are all of the colors of the rainbow in one. When the wheel speeds up, the colors blend into a vision of white light. The color white appears because your eyes cannot keep up with the separate colors moving at such a fast rate.  

Try this experiment and take some pictures and post them to our Facebook Page or send them to us and we will!

Thanks to Steve Spangler for the experiment! Youtube Video Demonstration: