The Color Filters Concept Builder is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Concept Builder can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

We find that students are generally fascinated by the topic of color. It is something that they experience in their lives everyday but have never thought very deeply about. For very little cost, some awesome lab experiences and demonstrations can be performed that capture their attention and motivate them to think more deeply about why objects appear as they do.  We suggest purchasing some gel sheets and cutting them into smaller pieces for students to use. They can view colored objects through the filters and observe how their color appearance changes as the filter blocks (or subtracts) light from that which is incident upon it. Such experiences, when combined with simulations such as our Color Filters Interactive will go a long distance towards providing students the background experience for understanding the application of color subtration principles.

This Concept Builder is designed to help students refine their understanding of how filters absorb or subtract colors from the range of colors that are incident upon them. The colors of light that are not absorbed are transmitted and thus affect the appearance of objects viewed through a filter. We suggest using the simplified model of three primary and three secondary colors of light. Once a comfort is acquired, the discussion can be expanded to include the range of wavelengths within the ROYGBIV spectrum.

The Color Filters Concept Builder is comprised of 42 questions. The questions are divided into 18 different question groups. Questions in the same group are rather similar to one another. The Concept Builder is coded to select at random a question from each group until a student is successful with that group of questions.

There are three different activities that can be engaged in through the Concept Builder. Those three activities are differentiated as follows:
  • Light Passage: Question Groups 1-6 ... Learners identify the light colors that pass through a color filter.
  • Color the Screen: Question Groups 7-12 ... Learners determine the color of a screen illuminated by light that passes through a filter.
  • Nmae That Filter: Question Groups 13-18 ... Learners use the appearance of a pattern of dots viewed through a filter to identify the filter type.

Each activity has a different emphasis. A teacher using this Concept Builder with their classes can choose to do all three activities or pick and choose from among them. There is no need for a student to have completed Activities 1 and 2 before doing Activity 3. Teachers using the Concept Builder with their classes should preview the activity (or view the Questions in the separate file) in order to judge which activity would be most appropriate for their students. 

In order to complete an activity, a student must correctly analyze each question in that activity. If a student's analysis is incorrect, then the student will have to correctly analyze the same or very similar question twice in order to successfully complete the activity. This approach provides the student extra practice on questions for which they exhibited difficulty. As a student progresses through an activity, a system of stars and other indicators are used to indicate progress on the level. A star is an indicator of correctly analyzing the question. Once a star is earned, that question is removed from the que of questions to be analyzed. Each situation is color-coded with either a yellow or a red box. A red box indicates that the student has incorrectly analyzed the question and will have to correctly analyze it twice before earning a star. A yellow box is an indicator that the question must be correctly analyzed one time in order to earn a star. Once every question in an activity has been analyzed, the student earns a trophy which is displayed on the Main Menu. This system of stars and trophies allows a teacher to easily check-off student progress or offer credit for completing assigned activities.

The most valuable (and most overlooked) aspect of this Concept Builder is the Help Me! feature. Each question group is accompanied by a Help page that discusses the specifics of the question. This Help feature transforms the activity from a question-answering activity into a concept-building activity. The student who takes the time to use the Help pages can be transformed from a guesser to a learner and from an unsure student to a confident student. The "meat and potatoes" of the Help pages are in the sections titled "How to Think About This Situation:" Students need to be encouraged by teachers to use the Help Me! button and to read this section of the page. A student that takes time to reflect upon how they are answering the question and how an expert would think about the situation can transform their naivete into expertise.


Related Resources

There are a numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Color Filters Concept Builder. These include:
  • Reading:
    Most students will find that  Lesson 2 of the Light Waves and Color Chapter of the Tutorial is a perfect accompaniment to this Concept Builder. In particular, the following three pages will be most helpful:

    Light Absorption, Reflection, and Transmission

    Color Addition

    Color Subtraction

  • Curriculum Corner
    The Curriculum Corner section of our website contains a complete course curriculum that coordinates with our Tutorial section and our Minds On Physics program. There are a few activities in the Light and Color section that would be useful complements to this activity. These include:

    Reflection, Transmission and Color

    Color Addition and Subtraction

    Viewed in Another Light

    Visit Light and Color section of the Curriculum Corner.

  • Minds On Physics Internet Modules:
    The Minds On Physics Internet Modules include a collection of interactive questioning modules that help learners assess their understanding of physics concepts and solidify those understandings by answering questions that require higher-order thinking. Assignment LC8 of the Light and Color module is a great complement to this Concept Builder. It is best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

    Users may find that the App version of Minds On Physics works best on their devices. The App Version can be found at the Minds On Physics the App section of our website. The Light and Color module can be found on Part 5 of the six-part App series. Visit Minds On Physics the App.

  • Physics Interactives:
    The Physics Interactives section of our website includes a collection of interactive simulations that allow learners to explore variable relationships, identify patterns, and investigate physical concepts that underlie the physical world. One of the Interactives in our Light and Color section makes a perfect complement to this Concept Builder. It is called the Color Filters and allows a student to explore the interaction between light, filters and color appearance.

    Color Filters

Additional resources and ideas for incorporating the Color Filters Concept Builder into an instructional unit on Light and Color can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.


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