Color Addition

by Tom Deets

Tom Deets is a part-time graphic artist and graduate student in Educational Technology.


After playing this game the learners will be able to name the combinations of primary and secondary colors that produce white when added together.

Learners/Context; The learners are students in an introductory physics class in either junior high or high school.

The game is designed to be played during or after a unit considering color addition and subtraction. A distinction needs to be made between color addition (mixing light) and pigment addition (mixing "paint") which is truly a process of color subtraction.

Rationale; A game is an appropriate format for this situation because it would be much more enjoyable to learn these combinations within a game context than it would be if the students just simply memorized the information.

Rules; Two to four people may play at the same time. Each player attempts to form "suits" of cards that produce white when added together. The first player to get a combination of seven cards (two pairs and a triple), all of which produce this combination, wins the game.

The game is played in the following manner:

  1. Seven cards are dealt to each player. The remainder of the cards are set down between the players with the top card turned over.
  2. The player immediatedly to the dealers left has the option of taking the card turned up or taking the first card on top of the remainder of the deck.
  3. This player should then discard a card face up. The next player then takes their turn continuing with this style of play until somebody thinks they have won the game.
  4. The player who thinks they have a winning combination should lay their cards down for inspection. If they have a combination of cards that does not satisfy the requirements they are eliminated from the game.

Card Design

Each card is entirely of a single color except for a Venn diagram at the upper left corner of the card. This diagram is to be used as a key to help players determine what combinations of colors will produce white. In addition to this is the name of the color above each diagram. This is included for color-blind students. There are six colors that are used: red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow.


Deck Design

The playing desk has a total of 60 cards, ten of each color. There is also a card with the rules of the game.

Design Process I started by thinking of physics concepts that are visual in nature. Color is an obvious choice. Also when teaching the concept of color addition to students I have had problems coming up with interesting activities for students to do. I contemplated adding complexion to the game by adding cards with color subtraction results (adding pigments) but felt it would only make to game to complex.

References Conceptual Physics, A High School Physics Program by Paul Hewitt, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company Inc. (1987)

Last updated by Tom Deets on September 28, 1995.

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Educational Technology 670, Fall 1995.