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Rainbow Relay

This fun relay game challenges the students' memory of the colour sequence of a rainbow.

The range of wavelengths of light that the human eye can see is called "the visible spectrum". This includes the colours of the rainbow.

Each colour can be explained as a ray of light that is transmitted at a particular level of energy (with a particular wavelength):

ColourWavelength Range (nm)
Red620-750
Orange590-620
Yellow570-590
Green495-570
Blue450-495
Violet380-450

The range of wavelength for indigo is around 425–450 nm. It's hard for the human eye to distinguish and is usually considered a subset of violet.

Objectives

  • Describe the properties of a rainbow.

Materials

  • 1 set of rainbow-coloured markers (black, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) that won’t bleed through paper plates

    Per team of 6–7 students:
    7 paper plates

Key Questions

  • What are the colours of the rainbow?

What To Do

Preparation

  1. Write ONE colour of the rainbow on each of the 7 plates per team (e.g. write “RED” in red ink on the first plate, etc). You could have several plates for each colour. Make sure the marker ink does not bleed through to the other (bottom) side of the plate; you do not want the colour to be seen from the other side.
  2. Repeat for the number of teams playing the game.
  3. Label a few plates “BLACK” as decoys.

Game

  1. Divide the class evenly into teams of 6–7 at one end of the playing area.
  2. Spread the plates out on the floor at the opposite side of the playing area, face-down, so that the colour labels are hidden from view.
  3. The objective of the game is to find all the colours of the rainbow AND place them in the correct sequence.
  4. At the teacher’s signal, one player from each team will run up to the plates and search for a colour that their team needs to make a rainbow.
  5. The players each turn one plate over at a time. If they don’t need the colour, they flip it back over and search for another one. If they need the colour, they take it back to their team and relay with another student who takes a turn to run and search for a missing colour.
  6. Once a team thinks they have all 7 colours of the rainbow (ROY G BIV), they hold their plates up in a line, in the proper order, and yell “Rainbow!”
  7. The teacher checks the rainbow for accuracy; if the team has any duplicates of the same colour, or has any colour in the incorrect order, they must try again.
  8. The first team to obtain all of the colours of the rainbow in the correct sequence wins.

Extensions

  • For a more challenging, strategic game for older students, allow two players from each team at a time to search through the plates.

Other Resources

Science World Bonus Video |Search for Rainbows