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Afterimages: The Colorful Tricks Eyes Play

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6 buddy reviews
by Teisha Rowland, PhD
Active Time
< 10 minutes
Total Project Time
< 10 minutes
Key Concepts
colors, eyes, vision, afterimages, illusions
Staring at this image of a circle divided into blue, red, and green wedges can trigger afterimages.


Have you ever wondered how visual illusions are made? When we see special effects in movies, or a magic show, we often witness illusions that challenge our ability to correctly perceive things. One way in which our eyes play tricks on us is through afterimages. Afterimages are the images you see after staring at an object for several seconds and then looking away. In this science activity, you will look at afterimages to reveal the secrets of how your eyes see color.


Teisha Rowland, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,150 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.


  • Computer with a color monitor or a color printer and paper
  • Stopwatch or clock that shows seconds
  • Optional: Colored pencils and paper or a basic computer graphics program
    Materials needed to do a science activity investigating afterimages and colors.
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Active Time
< 10 minutes
Total Project Time
< 10 minutes
Key Concepts
colors, eyes, vision, afterimages, illusions