Sunday, March 08, 2009

Spinning Color Wheels

Spinning Color Wheels

You Need:
Posterboard or light cardboard
A pencil and a ruler
A sharp point to poke a hole in the cardboard (The pencil will do in a pinch.)
A straw and a craft brad OR string OR a pushpin and a wooden dowel, optional
(Shirts also optional if you're at home and it's sunny out.)

Trace a circle onto your posterboard or cardboard. Using your ruler divide your circle evenly into sections (this makes a fun mini math lesson!) like the picture shown above, or like this:
For one side of your circle, choose two primary colors, or two complementary colors (colors opposite one another on the color wheel), and color the sections of your circle alternating colors. On the other side of your wheel, color the sections using colors of your choice.

Once your circle is colored, poke a small hole through the very center. Use the hole to poke your craft brad, push pin, or string through your circle.

Craft brad and straw: Poke a small hole into the straw, insert the pointed end of the brad that's already sticking through the circle, and widen the ends of the brad so that it won't slip back through the straw. Spin the wheel!
Push pin and dowel: Poke the end of the pushpin through the center of the circle into the dowel. Make sure it's pushed in firmly so that it won't fall off. Spin the wheel!
String: Thread the string through the center of the circle. Holding both ends of the string (one end in each hand), swing the circle around and around, twisting the string. Pull the string tight and watch your wheel spin!
Or....just spin your wheel!

What happens if you use two primary colors? What happens when you use complementary colors?

Why does it work?
Color and Spinning Wheels at Newton BBS Ask a Scientist.

This is a simple project, and lots of fun! We used this lesson plan: Spinning Color Wheels from It calls for using string through the center of the circle. We used several kinds of string and yarn, and attempted to fasten our circles to the string in various ways, but we could not get our circles to wind tightly enough on the string. They just flopped around and refused to spin. It wasn't time wasted. We found all kinds of techniques and materials that just won't work. Next we experimented a little with methods we've used in the past for other projects: A straw with a craft brad was just the ticket for preschool gent, kindergarten gent used a push pin and a wooden dowel, and their older brother cut straight to the chase, deciding to forgo the spinners altogether and spinning his circle on the floor instead.

Check this out! Color Matters--Amazing Science of Colors. Chockful of information, experiments and color facts, including Color Matters for Kids.

More science, art and vision fun for adults: Here's a fascinating web exhibit entitled Color Vision and Art: Vision Science and the Emergence of Modern Art.

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