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Color Me Hot!

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Updated on Mar 19, 2014

Grade Level: 2nd - 4th; Type: Physics

To determine if dark colors provide more heat and light colors help stay cooler

  • Do colors affect temperature?
  • Do dark color clothes absorb more heat?
  • Do light color clothes keep a person cooler on a hot day?

Have you ever noticed that summer clothes are usually made of lighter colored fabrics? There is science behind this fashion statement. Colors affect the absorption of heat. Dark colors (black, red, dark blue) absorb more heat than light colors (white, yellow, light pink).

This investigates tests the hypothesis that dark colors absorb more heat than light colors by testing ice cubes and different color fabrics in the sunlight.

  • 4 scraps of fabric (2 dark colors such as black or dark blue and 2 light colors such as white and pale pink)
  • Scissors
  • 4 ice cubes
  • Scale that measures ounces
  • Metal baking pan
  • Stopwatch

  1. Gather the necessary materials
  2. Cut the fabric into 4 x 4-inch square pieces.
  3. Weigh each ice cube and record.
  4. Place the ice cubes on the baking pan and cover each with a different piece of fabric. Place the baking pan in direct sunlight.
  5. Observe the ice cubes. Note the time on the stopwatch that it takes for each ice cube to melt. Record the data.

Terms/Concepts: absorb: to take in; Dark colors absorb more heat.Light colors do not absorb more heat, but rather stay cooler.

References:

“Heat Absorption” at http://www.kidsgeo.com/geography-for-kids/0066-heat-absorption.php

“Color and Heat Absorption” http://newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen99540.htm

“Why do different colors absorb different amounts of heat energy?” at http://www.letusfindout.com

Nancy Rogers Bosse has been involved in education for over forty years â first as a student, then as a teacher, and currently as a curriculum developer. For the last fifteen years she has combined a career in freelance curriculum development with parenthood â another important facet of education and probably the most challenging. Nancy lives in Henderson, Nevada with husband and their three teenagers.

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