Virtual Museum – Color Blending Top

Put a new spin on blending colors by creating your own spinning top! Mix colors through motion and make this optical illusion spring to life. It may seem out of this world, but rest assured, this is not just a pigment of your imagination!


  • Cereal box cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Primary color paints (red, yellow, blue)*
  • Pen or pencil
  • Toothpicks
  • Can, cup, or other circular object to trace

*You can also use markers. Keep in mind, the more intense the color the better.


  1. Trace three circles onto the cardboard and cut them out. Each of these will make a separate top.
  2. Draw a line down the middle of each circle and then another one across dividing each circle into four equal sections.
  3. Pick two paint colors for each top and paint the sections alternating colors. Red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors — the colors that make all other colors. This means that any two colors you pick will combine to make a new color. Make a top for each possible color combination.
  4. Once the paint is dry, make a tiny hole in the center of each top. If your scissors are not sharp enough, try using a paperclip. Insert a toothpick into the hole. Tape the bottom of the paper to the toothpick to hold it steady when you spin it.
  5. Spin your tops! Can you guess what color they might make when you spin them? How quickly do they need to spin to see the color mixing effect?
  6. Get creative! Become expert in top spinning. Try spinning two tops at once and see which one stays up the longest. Trying making more tops but get creative with the paint — does the color mixing effect change if you paint the top half and half instead of in quarters? What about if you paint stripes? What happens if you mix the paints before you paint the top? Does blue paint mixed with yellow paint make the same color as your blue and yellow top when it spins?