Color And Temperature

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Updated on Feb 08, 2012

Grade Level: 3rd - 6th; Type: Physical Science


To investigate how color affects temperature.

Research Questions

  • Does color affect temperature?

  • How/why does color affect temperature?

Different kinds of light have different wavelengths. Different colors of visible light also have different wavelengths and produce different thermal energy.


  • 4 swatches of 100% cotton fabric, identical except for color (colors should include yellow, black, green, and red)
  • thermometer
  • halogen floodlight, 100 watts
  • paper
  • pencil

Experimental Procedure

  1. Gather the necessary materials.
  2. Position the floodlight so that the bulb is 18” above a flat surface.
  3. Set the thermometer under the floodlight and leave undisturbed for 30 minutes.
  4. Record the temperature.
  5. Allow the thermometer to cool to room temperature without the light.
  6. Fold one of the pieces of fabric over the thermometer and set under the floodlight.
  7. Leave undisturbed for 30 minutes. Record the temperature.
  8. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with each different color fabric four times to get an average. To find the average, add the 5 temperatures for each color individually, then divide by 5.
  9. Analyze the data and draw a conclusion.

Terms/Concepts: wave length: the horizontal distance between two waves thermal energy: energy caused by heat; Different colors heat up differently causing different thermal energy.


“Heat Absorption” at “Color and Heat Absorption” “Why do different colors absorb different amounts of heat energy?” at

Nancy Rogers Bosse has been involved in education for over forty years - 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 - 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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