Make a Rainbow

Play with water and light, and create your own arty science experiment

Beauty artwork by Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson, Beauty, 1993 Courtesy of the artist © Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson is an Icelandic-Danish artist known for sculptures and installation art using elemental materials such as light, water, and air temperature. Eliasson creates experiences that can be shared by everyone. Some, like Beauty (above), recreate natural phenomena such as rainbows. Eliasson makes spectacular installations that help us think about social and environmental issues.

What is a rainbow?

A rainbow outline

A rainbow is created when light bends and is separated into colours.

What you need

Materials for activity, pencils, paper, torch, glass of water
  • A glass of water
  • White paper
  • Colouring pencils
  • A torch

Get set up


1. Place the glass of water on the edge of the table so a little bit hangs off the edge. Be very careful not to knock it over.

2. Shine the torch through the glass at the top. Adjust the angle until the light falls onto the paper below.

3. Colour over the light on the paper to create your own rainbow.

Top Tip: Turn off the lights to see the rainbow more clearly!

Special thanks to OKIDO for the illustrations and activity.

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