Add all the colors of light together and you get white? But add all the colors of paint/ink together and you get black? Really? These concepts are often a bit difficult for students to grasp. I introduce this lab asking if students have ever printed off an images from their computer but the colors were all wrong. That's because monitors use additive colors and printers use subtractive.
This lab consolidates labs on subtractive and additive color. I knew there was a difference, but when studying color, I didn't find a lab that helped students to compare the two. So I wrote my own. (Free printable of student handout along with teacher answer key at the end of this post!) This lab is not a high level of inquiry--instead it is collection of several demos and activities to help students solidify what is true about color and light. I used this lab with middle/high school students, but used parts of it with my 5 year old! If you have a class of 25 or more, you might choose to set this this lab up in stations where they rotate to various activities.
Comparing additive and subtractive colors
You don't need any materials for the section on comparing additive and subtractive colors. This is a chart that students fill in as they learn about the properties of these two color systems. Here is a look at the answer key.