Color Theory Optical Illusion: Primary and Secondary Colors

Teach children the basics on primary and second colors with this fun optical illusion experiment!



Step 1. Gather your materials.

Step 2.

Place a cup on a piece of card stock and trace (3) times to make (3) circles.

Step 3.

Divide each circle in half with a ruler and a pencil.

Step 4.

Paint each half of the circle with a primary color. For circle 1, paint one half blue and one half red. For circle 2, paint one half blue and one half yellow. For circle 3, paint one half red and one half yellow.

Step 5.

Once dry, cut out the circles.

Step 6.

Flip each circle over and repeat the same colors on the backside. If Circle 1 had half blue and half red on the one side, paint the same colors on the backside. Repeat for all three circles.

Step 7.

Use your ruler and make a mark in the center of the circle. Also make a mark 1/4 inch away from the hole on either side.

Step 8.

Use your pencil to poke a hole on these two marks which are on either side of the center. Do not poke a hole on the center mark.

Step 9.

Thread 36 inches of cord through the two holes and tie a knot to secure the ends together.

Step 10.

Hold your optical illusion so that the circle is in the center and you hold a loop on each side. Make sure to hold the string taught and flip the circle until both sides of the cord are twisted. Release the cord and watch your circle spin. The spinning action causes the primary colors to join together to make a secondary color. When you spin circle 1, made of blue and red, you should see the secondary color of purple. When you spin circle 2, made of blue and yellow, you should see the secondary color of green. When you spin circle 3, made of red and yellow, you should see the secondary color of orange.

Further Discussion:

Color theory is based on colors and their relationship to one another. You can mix and match the primary colors of red, yellow and blue to create green, purple and orange or secondary colors. Use this experiment as a discussion point for primary and secondary colors and their relationship to one another. 

Basic color theory tells us that optical perception can be created by using different color combinations and changing their arrangement and proportion. Use this easy optical illusion project as a jumping off point to further discuss color then create different science based projects on basic color theory.

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