Disappearing Color Wheel

The wheel is covered in the primary and secondary colors, but give it a spin and they vanish from a rainbow to white.

When Sick Science! first got its start, we introduced an experiment called the Color Mixing Wheel. This spinning science toy was a great way to show you what happens when the primary colors blend together to make secondary colors. Our Sick Scientists have taken it a step further. What happens when you spin a wheel that has all 6 primary and secondary colors?

Experiment Materials

Experiment

  1. Use the scissors to cut the edge off of the disposable plate.
  2. On the flat piece of plate, trace the mouth of the cup with a pencil.
  3. Use a ruler and pencil to divide the circle into 6 even sections.
  4. Color each of the 6 sections a different color using your Sharpies.
  5. Cut out the circle.
  6. Use the cup to trace a circle on cardboard and cut it out with the scissors, gluing the colored circle and cardboard together. Colored side out!
  7. Poke two small holes through the wheel, near the center of the circle.
  8. Cut a 36″ piece of string.
  9. Feed the string through both holes and tie the ends together.
  10. Wind the string by moving the wheel in a motion similar to a jump rope.
  11. Pull the string tight to get the wheel spinning. Once you get the hang of it, this process will be second nature.
  12. As the wheel spins, what do you notice about the colors?

How Does It Work?

Where'd those colors go?! Well… they're all there, they've just mixed together. 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 is all of the colors in one: white. When the wheel spins up to the right speed, the colors blend into a near-recreation of white light. This “white” wheel is created because your eyes cannot keep up with the rapid rate at which the individual colors are spinning!