Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Colors on My TV Screen

Jeri Martin


Visible light contains all the colors of the rainbow. However, electronic screens (TV, computer) use only three of these colors to produce the colors that we see on them. Students investigate these colors by making and testing a color wheel.


The student identifies a protractor as a tool for measuring angles and measures angles using a protractor.

The student knows the precision of different measuring instruments.

The student understands that wavelength determines the colors of visible light.

The student uses appropriate procedures for safety in the classroom, home, and community.


Each student needs:
-2 Sheets of white poster board (14 cm x 14 cm)
-Colored pencils
-String (2 meters)
-Metric ruler
-KWL Chart (See Associated File)
-Laboratory Rubric (See Associated File)
-Color Wheel Activity (See Associated File)


1. Make student copies of the KWL Chart, Laboratory Rubric and Color Wheel Activity. (See Associated File)
2. Cut poster board into 14 cm x 14 cm pieces.
3. Gather materials.


1. Provide a brief overview of visible light. Explain that only three of the colors found in visible light are used by electronic screens (TV, computer) to produce all the colors that we see on them. Ask students to make predictions about which three colors are used. Explain that they will be involved in an activity today to investigate these colors and to learn more about the spectrum of visible light.

2. Give students a copy of the Laboratory Rubric. (See Associated File) Review expectations: identification of the three colors used by electronic screens; use of compass and protractor; lab safety; and cooperative work with others.

3. Give students a copy of the KWL Chart. (See Associated File) Discuss with students the K (what do you KNOW) and W (what do you WANT to know) from the chart. The L (what did you LEARN) will be completed at the end of this activity.

4. Pass out the Color Wheel Activity. (See Associated File) Instruct students to follow the procedures provided to complete the activity.

5. When students have finished the Color Wheel Activity, have them complete the L section of their KWL Chart and turn in.


1. The Laboratory Rubric is marked as students go through the Color Wheel Activity.
2. The student-created color wheels are checked for accuracy in measuring divisions, coloring and ability to use (does it spin).
3. The KWL Chart is also collected.
4. The Color Wheel Activity and L section of the KWL chart is graded. (A teacher copy of the KWL Chart is located in the associated file.)


1. Having students make the Color Mixer and Color Kaleidoscopes from the listed Websites can extend the Color Wheel Activity. (See Weblinks)
2. The procedures could be modified to allow the lesson to be used as a cooperative group activity for ESE/ESOL students or if there are not enough supplies for each student to have their own individual set.

Web Links

This site provides information about the Color Mixer activity mentioned in Extensions.
Magic School Bus

To get to the Light and Color section Click onto (1) Episode Guides, (2) Physical Science, (3) Physics, (4) Light and Color. This site provides background information that can be used for the lesson.
Bill Nye

This site provides light and color activities for students to do such as the Color Kaleidoscopes mentioned in Extensions. A free registration is required for students and teachers to log on and access the activities.

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