July 18, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Science And Technology

Does color affect temperature?

The color of an object is the color it reflects, while absorbing other colors. White reflects all colors in the spectrum, while black absorbs all colors and reflects very little.

Visible white light from the sun consists of seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. When white light hits a white object, all the colors are reflected. When white light hits a red object, red is reflected and the other colors are absorbed.

Diagram showing why we see colors as they are. Visible white light is divided into 7 colors.

It is believed that humans can see around a million different colors!

In this research, ice cubes are placed on black and white paper plates to demonstrate that a black surface absorbs heat faster than a white surface, which reflects most of the light and heat.

Color and temperature research

You will need to

Two ice cubes of the same size

Black and white paper or cardboard plates.

Timer

Sunny day

Instructions

Find a sunny spot and place one ice cube on a black cardboard square and another on a white cardboard square. Both ice cubes should be exposed to direct sunlight or shade.

Calculate the time it takes for each ice cube to melt.

Ice on black and white cardstock for a melting science experiment.
Ice cubes melting on white poster board for a science activity about how color affects temperature.
Ice melting on a black and white card

The photographs show that the ice cube on the black card melted much faster than the one on the white card, which is what we expected to happen. The black card heated up faster than the white card and melted the ice cube more quickly.

Extension tasks

Try the activity again using more colors.

Design a t-shirt for a hot day and think about the best colors to wear. Remember that black absorbs heat and lighter colors reflect it.

More easy science for kids

See first hand How light travels in a straight line with a light maze.

Find out how Make a rainbow on a sunny day.

Discover Where is visible light located in the electromagnetic spectrum?.

Scientific concepts

Light

Electromagnetic spectrum

Vision

Ice cubes in different colored plates for a scientific investigation into color and temperature.

Last updated on July 2, 2024 by Emma Vanstone

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