Plate Spinning Tops – What Happens When We Spin Colours?

Part of Early Years Week

We are going to do an experiment to see what happens to coloured patterns when we spin them.

Watch our video and download our Plate Spinning Tops activity sheet to find out what you need to do.

Plate Spinning | Art and Science | Early Years Week

Did you make your plate? What colours can you see?

Because the patterns of colours are going faster than our eyes can pick up, our brain will blend them together. It’s a bit like colour mixing, which we will explore in the next section, but it’s happening in our brain If you put all 6 colours from the colour wheel on a spinner then they would blend together and disappear. That’s because white light is actually a mixture of all the colours in the spectrum. Try it!

Now, for older children take a look at some of these optical illusions. The way artists use colours and shading can sometimes trick your brain into seeing things that aren’t really there. Look at this photo by Edward H. Adelson.

Edward H. Adelson's Optical Illusion
Edward H. Adelson's Optical Illusion

Because of the shadow from the green cylinder, your brain thinks that block ‘B’ is lighter than block ‘A’, but they are actually exactly the same. Test this by cutting out the two blocks and placing them side by side. Are they the same?

Look at the image below by Professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka. Does it look like the snakes are moving? That’s because of the way the colours are lined up next to each other inside the circles!

Akiyoshi Kitaoka's Optical Illusion
Akiyoshi Kitaoka's Optical Illusion

Now that we have looked at some optical illusions that gives the illusion of movement, why not try DCA’s Animation Taster to create stop motion animations? Animations work by showing our brain different pictures fast enough so that it looks to us as if they are moving. Try this activity to make an animation yourself using stop motion

Plate Spinning Tops - What Happens When We Spin Colours?
Plate Spinning Tops (PDF) - What Happens When We Spin Colours?

This page is part of the Early Years Week information.

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