Type of Web
The Web Science Workshop lessons were created in cooperation with the Exploratorium Teacher Institute.
Introduction: Light and color are fascinating topics for students of all ages--especially those with an interest in art. However, color mixing can be confusing for students, especially since mixing light is different than mixing pigments or paints. Adding to the confusion is the fact that most students are taught early in life that red, blue, and yellow are the primary colors of paint, and thus rebel against the idea that such strange sounding colors as magenta and cyan might be more "primary."
In order to understand color mixing well, students need a wide range of hands-on experience with the topic. This web page is meant to give teachers a sampling of such hands-on activities. Some of the activities use "real-life" materials (paint, ink, light), while others are computer-based simulations (several of which require the Shockwave plug-in). While the simulations are extremely interesting and valuable, we recommend that you start with at least a few real-life activities; a student who hasn't seen with her own eyes that red and green light mix to form yellow light will not believe it when she sees it on a computer--it will just seem to be a trick of the computer programmer.
Background: The primary colors of light are red, blue, and green. They are called primary because they can be mixed to form any other color in the spectrum.
The primary colors for pigments (such as paints or inks) are yellow, cyan (a bluish-green) and magenta (purplish-red). These are the primary colors for pigments because they can be mixed to form any other color of pigment.
The combination of any two primary colors of light makes a secondary color of light. The three primary colors of light are the secondary colors of pigment, and the three primary colors of pigment are the secondary colors of light.
Purpose: To use a Web site to make observations about the mixing of various colors of light and of pigment.