7 Rainbow Experiments for Science Class
Making learning fun is sometimes half the battle! With the right activities, educators can ensure learning about science and engineering involves hands-on fun for students of all ages. Build in some colorful science exploration with STEM experiments on a rainbow theme!
The science of visible light and the physics involved in what we see as a rainbow can lead to exciting hands-on science investigations and experiments. The "cool factor" of other science activities can also be upped by using a range of colors. The STEM activities highlighted in this Colorful Rainbow Science collection are sure to get lots of oohs and aahs as students use physics and chemistry to create colorful patterns, rainbows, and more.
Rainbow STEM: Experiment | Watch Videos | Ask Questions | Dig Deeper | Choice Board | Explore Careers | Read Books
EXPERIMENT: STEM Experiments with a Rainbow Spin
The science: The soap lowers the surface tension of the milk. The food coloring moves toward an area of higher surface tension.
The science: As light is refracted when passing through the container of water, different wavelengths of light bend at slightly different angles. This results in the bands of color we see in a rainbow.
The science: The substances used will settle into separate layers based on their density. To create a rainbow effect, students will need to determine how the substances will stack and add food color where needed.
The science: Oil and food coloring do not combine to make a homogeneous solution. When a mixture of oil and food coloring is added to water, the oil (which is less dense than water), sits on top of the water. The food coloring sinks to the bottom of the oil layer and then spreads into the water.
The science: There are several types of 3D printing processes. This activity simulates the process known as binder jetting. In the activity, glue is selectively applied to a layer of sand to bind the grains of sand together. Another layer of sand is added, and the process is repeated. The loose sand is shaken off in the end to reveal the 3D object.
The science: As the candy coatings dissolve, the sugar and dye solution from each candy begins moving to an area with a lower concentration of sugar. This movement creates colorful patterns in the water. By adding sugar, students can further control how the patterns form.
The science: The colored water in one cup moves through the paper towel by capillary action and, ultimately, adds color to the water in the cup at the other end of the paper towel. When more than one color of food coloring reaches a cup of water, the dyes combine to form new colors.
Use these questions with students to prompt conversation and reflection about the science behind these Rainbow STEM activities:
- How is a rainbow created in the sky?
- What happens to light to make a rainbow?
- What science concepts explain the colorful patterns created in the featured activities?
- What does the electromagnetic spectrum tell us about the colors in a rainbow?
- What does miscibility mean when talking about mixtures and solutions? What does polarity mean in this context?
- What is a homogeneous solution? What is a heterogeneous solution?
- Why is the density of water higher than the density of vegetable oil?
DIG DEEPER: More Lessons and Activities
For additional lessons and activities related to the activities above, see these curated Teaching Science Units collections:
- 16 Science Lessons About Visible Light
- 11 Lessons to Teach About the Chemistry of Mixtures and Solutions
CHOICE BOARD: Differentiated Learning
Choice boards offer a flexible learning tool educators can use to supplement classroom instruction. You might try a choice board as part of weekly homework, for extra credit, or for asynchronous and remote learning.
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EXPLORE: STEM Careers
After trying Rainbow STEM experiments, students may be inspired to learn more about these science and engineering careers:
Pair picture and story books like these with Rainbow STEM explorations.
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