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Spin the rainbow

Make a white light spinner and watch what happens when the colours start to spin.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • String
  • Pens or pencils
  • Scissors
  • Rulers
  • Sticky tack
  • Wooden skewers
  • White card
  • Spinner template
Spin the rainbow - template
PDF – 107.7KB

Why are rainbows symbols of pride?

The rainbow flag was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978. He was commissioned by a politician (Harvey Milk) to make a flag for San Francisco’s pride parade.

At the time, some people were using the pink triangle as a symbol for the gay rights movement – but the symbol was used by the Nazis to label LGBT+ people. Now, you might see some people reclaiming it, but Gilbert Baker thought that ‘the triangle came from a very negative, terrible place. We needed something that expressed our beauty, our soul, our love – that came from us and wasn’t put on us.’

Gilbert Baker chose a rainbow, a natural and beautiful symbol. Together, the different colours represent togetherness – lots of different individuals come together as one to make the LGBT+ community.

There are lots of other pride flags that represent specific people within the wider LGBT+ community. Check out some of the most common here. The History Channel has more information about the history of the rainbow flag.

Before you begin

  • Decide how you’ll run the activity – the whole group could make their spinners together, or you could set up two or three experiments at the same time. If you have a few experiments on the go at once, put everything needed for each on a different table, and make sure there’s an adult at each table. Decide how you’ll signal that everyone should move to the next table and start the next experiment.
  • You may need extra helpers, especially if you’re running a few at once. You could ask parents and carers to help out.
  • Make spinners out of white card. You could use the spinner template, or draw around something round (such as a plastic beaker) then draw lines using a ruler to divide the circle into six sections. Both sides should be divided into six equal sections. Cut the circles out.

Make the spinners

  1. The person leading the game should give everyone a spinner. It should be a cut out circle of white card, and each side should be divided into six equal sections (a bit like a pizza!).
  2. Everyone should colour both sides of their spinner. They should make sure each section is a different colour. People can choose which colours they’d like, but bright colours work best.
  1. Everyone should work with an adult to make two holes near the centre of the wheel. They could put a small piece of sticky tack underneath the wheel, then use a skewer (or sharp pencil) to pierce the holes.
  1. Everyone should measure around 60cm of thing string. That’s roughly the length of an adult’s arm, from the tip of their middle finger to their shoulder.
  2. Everyone should thread one end of the string through both of the holes, so one side of the spinner has a loop of string and the other side has two loose ends. They should tie the two loose ends together, so the spinner is in the middle of a big loop of string.

Try the spinner

  1. Everyone should wind the wheel on the spinner several times. The more they wind the wheel, the better it will spin.
  2. Everyone should hold the ends of their string, then pull their arms apart to make the wheel spin around. They should look closely at the wheel – what colour do they see?
  1. Everyone should think about why they only see the colour white. They may want to talk to a partner to share their ideas.
  1. Everyone should repeat steps one and two to spin the spinner again and try to figure out what’s happening.
  2. Everyone should gather together. The person leading the activity should help everyone talk about what they saw, and why they think it happened. The ink didn’t fall off the paper; it was still there at the end. No one suddenly became colour blind; they could see other colours in the room.
  3. The person leading the activity should explain that the spinners looked white because our eyes can’t keep up with how fast the colours were spinning, so it combined them and blended them into one, and the spinner looked white.

Reflection

In this activity, everyone developed skills. What skills did everyone use to make the spinner? People also had a chance to develop their investigation and scientific skills. Can anyone remember why the spinners looked white? Our eyes can’t keep up with how fast the colours were spinning, so it combined them into one.

This activity also needed people to problem solve. Did anyone have any problems making their spinners? What did people do when things were difficult? Sometimes we ask for help from a friend or grown up, and sometimes we can try to work the problem out ourselves. How did people decide what they thought happened to the colours on the spinner?

Safety

Scissors

Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.