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published by the PhET
This model lets users interactively explore how the human eye interprets colors for various combinations of red, green, and blue light. The first simulation features three monochromatic lights in red, blue, and green. Use the slider to control the intensity of each color to see what colors will be perceived by human vision. The second simulation lets users apply a filter to white light or to any wavelength of color and examine how the filter determines what colors pass through to the eyes. Note: This resource has been rewritten to HTML5, making it more versatile for use in all major browsers, mobile devices, and tablets.

This resource is part of a large collection of free-access simulations by the Physics Education Technology Project (PhET) for use in STEM education from K-12 through graduate level. The simulations were designed using principles based on physics education research and refined based on student interviews and classroom testing.

Additional context for this material is provided by the ComPADRE-SERC Pedagogic Service.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
- Color
= Synthesis and Analysis of Color
- The Eye
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Middle School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- text/html
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Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Additional information is available.
Rights Holder:
PHET and University of Colorado
Link to Material
Link to Material
Photons, Radiation, Spectrum, White Light, addition, filters, white, Light, color, color perception, filter, human vision, interactive multimedia, light, monochromatic beam, vision
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 30, 2006 by Gifford Weber
Record Updated:
December 28, 2017 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
November 30, 2017
Other Collections:

Next Generation Science Standards

From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes (4-LS1)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (4)
  • Use a model to describe that animals' receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways. (4-LS1-2)

Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer (MS-PS4)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials. (MS-PS4-2)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Electromagnetic Radiation (PS4.B)
  • When light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object's material and the frequency (color) of the light. (6-8)
Information Processing (LS1.D)
  • Different sense receptors are specialized for particular kinds of information, which may be then processed by the animal's brain. Animals are able to use their perceptions and memories to guide their actions. (4)
  • Each sense receptor responds to different inputs (electromagnetic, mechanical, chemical), transmitting them as signals that travel along nerve cells to the brain. The signals are then processed in the brain, resulting in immediate behaviors or memories. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Patterns (K-12)
  • Macroscopic patterns are related to the nature of microscopic and atomic-level structure. (6-8)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the relationships among its parts, therefore complex natural structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function. (6-8)
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
, Version 1.0 (PhET, Boulder, 2017), WWW Document, (
PhET Simulation: Color Vision, , Version 1.0 (PhET, Boulder, 2017), <>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Color Vision. (2017, November 30). Retrieved July 23, 2018, from PhET:
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: Color Vision. Boulder: PhET, November 30, 2017. (accessed 23 July 2018).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Color Vision. Vers. 1.0. Boulder: PhET, 2017. 30 Nov. 2017. 23 July 2018 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Color Vision}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2018}, Number = {23 July 2018}, Month = {November 30, 2017}, Year = {2017} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: Color Vision
%D November 30, 2017
%C Boulder
%O 1.0
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D November 30, 2017
%T PhET Simulation: Color Vision
%V 2018
%N 23 July 2018
%7 1.0
%8 November 30, 2017
%9 text/html

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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