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The Spinning top of colors


The students create their spinning tops with old CDs, marbles, and lids. Then, they observe how it balances as it spins and learns how the spinning tops were a traditional game.

Learning objectives

  • Understanding of the meaning of optical illusions

  • Familiarity with colour mixing.


Suggested age group



60 minutes

Fields in S.T.E.A.M.

  • Sciences

  • Art


  • One old CD

  • One marble

  • One plastic bottle lid

  • Glue

  • Temperas

  • Brushes



The spinning top is a traditional game. However, as it spins at high speed, it can balance on its thin edge for quite some time.


Students start by creating their spinning tops with old CDs, marbles, and lids. Then they watch it balance as it spins.


Students discuss the colours. Red, yellow, and blue is the primary colours. Therefore, they cannot be created by mixing other colours. Instead, you can make all the different colours by combining the three primary colours.


The students discover that if they mix blue and yellow, they create the colour green, which belongs to the category of secondary colours.

Correspondingly, red and yellow create orange and blue, and with red makes purple. Then students learn that if they add a little white to any other colour, they create a lighter shade.


Each student adds two colours to each spinning top, as shown in the pictures. After they dry well, experiment with rotating them. As the spinning top, it gives the illusion that colours are mixing. So, e.g. the red and blue spinning top, when spinning, looks purple.

  • But do the colours change?

  • What could be going on?

Students learn to formulate their opinions and observations by developing reasoning that explains what they see.

The lesson's purpose is that students associate the phenomenon of rotation with the optical illusion (the colours appear to change, but in reality, remain the same), understanding that sometimes our senses can deceive us.

Finally, this understanding can contribute to the epistemological sophistication of children and stimulate their curiosity about the world around them.

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