Color Mixing with RGB LED #1754


This lesson fits into our unit on waves (which was a couple weeks ago) and I plan to allow a group of early finishers to attempt it sometime this week.

During this lesson I would mostly be supporting students with the wiring the breadboard, it can be difficult to find the correct place for the wiring and takes a steady hand.

Students would be expected to ask for help when it’s needed and to be gentle with the fragile components.


Sorry, with grades and our district shutting down until the end of the month it has been crazy.

Where does this lesson fit in with your curriculum (if the lesson is not a fit for the class you teach, how could the lesson be modified so that it is applicable to your curriculum)?

Not sure how this would fit my specific class, but would be great for science or even an art class to understand primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. I used to teach some graphics content and used a spinning wheel to show how colors blend/react to develop other colors. This could also be used teaching IT concepts to show how an LED display works to create colors/display.

Which part or parts of the lesson would your students need extra support in order to be successful?

The connection is a bit more complicated and would require some additional time and support. I would also go over what a potentiometer is and how it works. Having a chart of graphic of how different color mix (other than online) would be useful or have a mini lesson.

I’m getting old and had issues viewing the pins and numbers with glasses. Almost had to get a magnifying glass. Not sure if students would also have issues, but it would probably be good to have some magnifiers available.

If you were to teach this lesson to your class, describe your role during the class. What does a successful teacher actively do during this lesson?

I definitely would have to do some direct instruction with this activity. Maybe not at first, but would definitely have to when it comes to reading and understand the wiring. I also feel some discussion of the light spectrum and additional components.

I was able to get the activity working the first time through with no issues.

If you were to teach this lesson to your class, describe your student’s role during the class. What does “student success” look like?

My courses are mostly project-based learning (PBL), so students are in charge of their own learning. Success would be a student being able to complete activity, understand, and be able to apply what was learned to future lessons.

This is a good exercise for just programming and circuit development. However, I feel it fits better with other content areas.


Yes, I feel your pain…I wear reading classes and almost had to get a magnifier to see the pins. I would suggest having some cheap magnifiers for students.


I agree this could be used in science and also art class to understand colors. If there was an IT course, you could also use to teach how LED displays work.


I thought of graphics design, but never theater lighting…it makes perfect sense!


While I had fun doing it, sadly this experiment doesn’t really fit with my curriculum. That’s okay because most of the other experiments we’ve done do fit. I teach college CS, Physics, Astronomy to Computer Science majors. My students already have experience with RGB in coding. It’s cool to do it with hardware instead of app or web dev but hardware is not part of what we cover. RGB and white light is a possibility but my students have already covered that in High School before they are in my class.

I agree with comments above on the pin. They can be hard to see. I have a “paper ruler” (just a rectangle piece of cardboard packaging from a waterbottle). I use it to check the row alignment of pins and cables on the breadboard as it’s kind of hard to see.


Great tip on the paper ruler. That’s one that I haven’t heard of before!


+1 on the magnifying glass. It really does make a difference.


Need to play more with percentages. One of the difficulties is that the separate LED chips show in the LED capsule, so blending is not great. But we can see the change. Not sure how I would use this outside of ratios, percents, and the basic electronics of potentiometers, but I’ll think about it. We can use the pot to control sound level as well. Fun experiment.


On this lesson I was able to modify the RGB values to change the colors, they were supposed to be more complex colors such as gold, khaki and palegoldenrod (whatever that color is).

  1. Where does this lesson fit in with your curriculum?
    This is an interesting lesson that can fit with computer sciences and color or to teach the spectrum of colors.

  2. Which part or parts of the lesson would your students need extra support in order to be successful?
    The color theory and how primary and secondary colors are made.

  3. If you were to teach this lesson to your class, describe your role during the class. What does a successful teacher actively do during this lesson?
    By conducting heavy background knowledge content since this lesson requires a lot of background theory.

  4. If you were to teach this lesson to your class, describe your student’s role during the class. What does “student success” look like?
    The student would conduct some practice along with theory.


I’m not sure where i would use this outside of allowing my CS students to manipulate the code to see how they can change the colors. They could possibly come up with some light show.

I would go into the aspect of how colors are created and I believe the students would help with just really understanding the theory behind color.

While facilitating I would basically be walking around and asking probing questions and answering questions.

Success would be the students feeling accomplished. They made it through the assignment and learned somethings along the way. They know about color and how to manipulate it through coding.


This was so much fun!! I loved experimenting with different code to see what colors I could get. I even impressed my family by making it be blue, red, and then purple! This was so much easier after I received my magnifying lamp!! I now can see the pin locations!!


Very well done. I have used similar lessons using other programs and systems this left opportunity for exploration and questioning that will help engage students and take them to the next level. I do see a need of figuring out a way to wrangle the wires as there are alot of them in this experiment that do become difficult to manage and keep track of. Flow of energy diagrams will be a great supplemental activity to get the students thinking about what is happening.


Love the idea to add energy diagrams!


I will admit that this proved to be the most difficult of the activities so far, for me. I found it tricky to get the coding figured out as well as actually getting the LEDs into the ports. But with persistence and fiddling, I figured it out.

I cannot wait to get this activity rolled out to my boys. I imagine creating pieces of art by linking multiple LEDs together and coding each one. I think there would be excellent connections to co-ordinate thinking, colour mixing, and elements of design. I think this would need lots of prep and student support, but it could be really fun.

A simpler use of the learning from this activity would be to code the LEDs and use them as signals for various sensors. I see this specific activity being useful as a starter into this kind of exploration, and one that would branch off to many more explorations.


In this lesson, I can predict some students will need to go back and review their wiring as they might have trouble. However, this is a great opportunity for students to problem solve and make predictions. I can see this lesson spark up a good discussions as they manipulate the code.


The wiring can be tricky. One best practice we have seen is to have students check each others wiring.