Rainbow Rain

We have had our share of spring showers this year.  One day watching the raindrops sliding down the kitchen windows my 6-year old exclaimed, “Imagine if each rain drop was a different color!”  So, we decided to do just that – create a rainbow rain!

For this project you need an easel and water color paper (or find some other way of propping your paper up).  Tempera paint in three primary colors – red, blue, and yellow.  You will also need a brush and some paper towels.

What to do
Fill a wet brush with paint, then dip it briefly in water.
Press a brush hard against the top of the paper and watch the paint run down the paper.

Discuss the colors the “rain” has made.  What happens when colors run into each other?  Which paint travels faster?  Why?  Why more water on the brush makes paint travel faster?

This is what we ended up with

More Rainbow Art
My son also wanted to see what happens when rainbow rain hits the ground.  So we taped a long roll of white paper to the table and let the paint drop from the brush and splash it where it will. We splashed some plain water too.

Discuss how different movement produces different splashes.  And that color splashes are more visible than water splashes. You can also use this opportunity to discuss the shape of raindrops.  Virtually every children’s book represents raindrops as tear-shaped, but it’s wrong.  Small raindrops (1mm) are round like a circle, larger raindrops (2-3mm) are like hamburger buns, and largest raindrops (more than 3mm) are more of a parachute shape.  The shape of the raindrop is determined by the interplay of raindrop surface tension and the pressure of the air pushing up against the bottom of the raindrop as it falls.  If you want to understand this better, Water Science School website is great.  (I can not wait for my kids to be old enough to discuss Cloud Microphysics with them!).

Happy Rainbow Rain day!

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