The Colored Filters Interactive 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 Interactive 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. 

This Interactive does use a newer technology known as WebGL. WebGL is a JavaScript-based technology that is built into most modern browsers on mobile devices as well as desktop/laptop browsers. Older browsers may not be WebGL compliant or may not offer it as a standard feature but allow it to be enabled by the user of the device. For instance, the Safari browser has an Enable WebGL option in its Develop menu. Without enabling WebGL, the use of WebGL JavaScript code is not functional and would not work in such browsers. We expect that future browsers will all be WebGL-compliant and we have thus used this technology for the creation of this Interactive. Additional information about WebGL can be found on Wikipedia


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive is one of several Interactives in this section that pertain to the topic of color addition, color subtraction, filters, and color vision. In this Interactive, learners explore how filters interact with specific colors of light. There are three different tabs at the top of the Interactive. It is recommended that learners proceed from the Lasers tab to the Light Bulb tab to the Sunglasses tab. Using the Lasers tab, learners discover what filters do to specific colors of light. They quickly learn that a filter selectively absorbs one or more primary colors of light. It is important that learners know which color of light is absorbed by which filter. Using the Light Bulb tab, students can explore how filters interact with white light. The white light can be thought of as acting equivalent to a collection of the red, green and blue laser lights. The Sunglasses tab allows a learner to investigate the appearance of a photo using color-tinted sunglasses. The filters of the sunglasses are identical to the filters most recently used in the Laser or the Light Bulb tabs. Those filters automatically transfer to the Sunglasses tab and a learner will have to return to the Laser or the Light Bulb tab to change those filter colors. The Sunglasses tab also allows a learner to explore a color wheel and a photo uploaded from their own device. To upload your own photo, tap on the camera icon and use the directory dialogue box to navigate to a photo of your choice.  

For those teachers who would like to provide their classrooms with a more directed experience, The Physics Classroom has prepared a structured exercise that steps students through the principle of color subtraction by filters. View Exercise.



Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Colored Filters Interactive. These include:
  • 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. Assignments LC6, LC7, and LC8 of the Light and Color module provides a great complement to this Interactive. It is best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. It would be a great follow-up to the use of this Interactive. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

  • Curriculum/Practice: Several Concept Development worksheets at the Curriculum Corner will be very useful in assisting students in cultivating their understanding of color vision, most notably ...

    Reflection, Transmision, and Color
    Color Addition and Subtraction
    Viewed in Another Light
    Pigments and Paints

    Visit the Curriculum Corner.

  • Labwork: 
    Simulations should always support (never supplant) hands-on learning. The Laboratory section of The Physics Classroom website includes several hands-on ideas that complement this Interactive. Four notable lab ideas include ...

    Color Addition Lab
    Taking Away from RGB Lab
    Painting with CMY Lab
    Filtering Away Lab

    Visit The Laboratory.

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


The Physics Classroom would like to extend a special thanks to Nerd Island Studios for the creation of this HTML5 Interactive and for contributing it to our collection of Physics Interactives. Visit to see more great stuff by Nerd Island Studios.