Learning About the Color Spectrum

By Amanda Moses

 “Behind every dark cloud is a rainbow.” A rainbow is the reflection, dispersion, and refraction of light through water droplets, forming a spectrum of colors.

The hues within the rainbow are commonly described with the acronym ROYGBIV, which stands for: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. During a recent Science is Real virtual class with Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman, students recreated a rainbow with a single paper towel sheet, two glasses of water, and markers.

“What comes first in ROYGBIV?” Roytman inquired, and a student enthusiastically responded, “It’s red!”

Roytman cut her paper towel in half vertically and used her watercolor markers to make small color strips following the ROYGBIV order on both ends of the sheet. “We are going to dip the ends of the paper towel in the water. Since the paper towel is made of plant fibers, the colors move up, in a capillary action which is a term that describes liquid’s ability to flow in narrow spaces without any assistance or force,” Roytman said.

“The color is going through the narrow spaces and cavities that make up the paper towel. Watch and see how it’s being absorbed,” Roytman said while showing the class her rainbow experiment.

Many of the children gasped in awe as they watched a miniature rainbow form before their very eyes. Excitedly, the students tried the experiment with their parents. For some the colors blended together, almost forming a tie-dye effect, which demonstrated the end result of capillary action.

Rather than toss out their paper towels, Roytman advised  the children to let it dry so, that they could use it in their next art project, creating an aquarium using a cardboard box, bottle caps, and other repurposed materials.

Roytman played a short video about the marine life that lives deep within the depths of our oceans, and then tasked the children to recreate what they saw using a piece of cardboard from a package or shoebox. After painting the box blue, the students were encouraged to be as creative as possible using paint and repurposed items, such as aluminum foil scraps, crumbled paper, and yarn.  Three-dimensional fish were created from bottle caps and triangular pieces of paper.

With the rainbow sheet they created earlier, Roytman made a sea horse. The students followed suit and created sea snakes, an eel, crabs, starfish, and even a pufferfish.

Screenshots by Amanda Moses