Science Projects


Color Science Projects - Rainbow


This is a special section devoted to students and their science projects.

The menu at the  left contains links to the science projects.

Please join the Color Matters Forums for questions or comments about these projects or a new color science project.



Does color affect taste?

Does color affect taste?
This question pertains to the condition known as synaesthesia. For example, a color might have a "taste" associated with it.

The best answer is at Color Matters: How Color Affects Taste and Smell

A student's science project on this topic: How color affects taste

Color and Taste - Some Answers from Others

Miss Jackson: Last year a class took three bottles of identical lemon lime soda. Into one they put several drops of blue food coloring. Into another they put an identical amount of red food coloring. Into the third they put an identical amount of green food color.They let 100 students try the three sodas and asked which they liked the best. The majority said they liked the blue soda the best because they liked the blue berry flavor the best! The zinger, remember, is that they all were lemon-lime in flavor.

Kim: My 12 year old son did the same science project with vanilla pudding and most people chose the "chocolate" pudding which in reality was vanilla with food coloring....soooo color does affect the senses.

lmn: I tested 10 people: i gave em each a blue and an original cookie and had them taste each of the colors, they all said that the original one tasted better even though they were all the same thing.

CC: My daughter, age 9, did the same basic experiment. However, we used sugar dough cookie mix and mixed 7 different colors for 10 classmates to try. She thought they would all go for the black cookie, thinking that they would think it was chocolate. But the colors blue, green and red were the cookies of choice.

Chris Willard.: Take some common foods and shine different colored lights on them and ask people what they find appetizing when the colors of say mashed potatos turn green or blue.

JJStaple.: Good question. It is said "hunger is the best appetizer" so I would imagine that our visual purple photodetectors are the complement and match filter for green such as in salads. Discoloration of food probably was primitive threat warning system, like red sunrise for sailors, although some green apples are ripe and others are not and might evoke memory of a belly ache. Story goes that before early demonstration of fruit bowl on new color TV, engineers at RCA Sarnoff Labs switched the RGB cables. A non-yellow banana would not be appetizing and a hot dog may look more appetizing with yellow or brown mustard--depending on one's taste. De gustibus non est dispudandum.

Links to More Science Projects

Here's a compilation of all the pages with  information from students who are conducting scientific color experiments.

Color and Heat Absorption

Color and Water Evaporation

Plant Growth & Light Color

You might also be interested in ...

Why does yellow mean happy and why does blue mean sad?

Why does yellow mean happy? If everyone loves blue, why does "feeling blue" mean sad? Explore "The Meanings of Colors"


Color guides
Some colors are sweet and others are sour.
Find out more with this guide to the symbolism of 100 colors.

Plant Growth & Light Color

Is plant growth affected by the color of light?


the color of light and plants

Question: I need help with an experiment I'm doing. I read some place that plants need more red artificial light because it is the color of heat. It also said that artificial blue light was a cool color.

Plant Growth and Light Color- Some Answers from Others

Jenni (a former student of SAS, a China located international school):
The color of light does affect plant growth. See, sunlight contains many colors of the visible specturm, and the invisible. Plants can be affected. Cellophane tents don't work because they don't supply the correct amount and cellophane affects opaqueness of the light... so use colored light bulbs. Plants (expecially flowering and house) tend to like violet, blue and red lights... not so much as some yellows, oranges and greens. Maybe this should help... Good LUCK!!!! -Jenni,
Here are a few sites to help, as well:
Does Colored Light Affect Seed Growth
How Light Affects Plant Growth

John Ott worked a great deal with plants and how light and color affects them. I suggest you read some of his work. You can find references to John Ott on the web. I suspect it's not the color 'temperatures' you'll find to be central, but the frequencies of light that come in contact with the plants. You can do literature searches on such topics as color, temperature, and plants. But conducting an experiment gives you direct experience and first hand observations. That's what scientists like! :-) Conduct your own experiment - and maybe you'll find something never before discovered.

The 'color' of light (the emission amplitude and spectral distribution) can significantly affect plant growth. Keep in mind, it's not only the visible light, but the UV and infra-red areas in the spectrum - light that is not visible to the human eye. There are 'full spectrum' light bulbs that have been available (at least in the past) for people who wish to provide 'sun equivalent' lighting forplants [and people too] - both plants and people probably grow better :) under this type of balanced light. As an aside, the typical cool white fluorescent lamp emits strongly in the blue and green emission bands (try peeking at one with a prism or spectra scope.) Studies have suggested that fluorescent and other unbalanced bulbs do less than great things of people and plants are exposed to them chronically (prolonged exposure).....including 1. increased incidence of dental caries (cavities), 2. hyperactivity and depression in adults...on and on... To answer your question though, yes, light affects plants. It can inhibit growth, reproduction, and plant health.. ...or help it if the light is right. Regards, Mac

Find a few books written by John Ott. He did some plant and colored light stuff - kinda like you are! :) Cool eh? Then - don't believe everything you read. Do the project yourself! Get some plants, buy some little lights, and away you go. (Psst - go ahead and do the Red, Blue, White, and Yellow - but add a few more lights if you can. A so-called Gro-Light that has some UV in it - and perhaps a standard fluorescent bulb.)

Links to More Science Projects

Here's a compilation of all the pages with  information from students who are conducting scientific color experiments.

Color and Heat Absorption

Does Color Affect Taste?

Color and Water Evaporation

You might also be interested in ...
Why does yellow mean happy and why does blue mean sad?

Why does yellow mean happy? Why does blue mean sad?
Explore The Meanings of Colors


Color Symbolism

Color & Water Evaporation

How does the color of water affect its evaporation rate?

My experiment consists of 3 bottles of water. I added blue food coloring to one bottle, and red food coloring to another bottle, and the last bottle of water i added nothing. I've noticed the bottle of water I added nothing to, is evaporating faster than the blue and red water. Why is this?

Color and Water Evaporation - Information from others

LKPete: The short answer is that the "color" of water has no effect on evaporation. But this is because water, by itself, has no color, instead only reflecting the sky (the ocean on a cloudy day will be as gray as the clouds). You might make a case for any substance within the water that gives it color (algea, chemicals, etc.) that might change the water's viscosity, and, therefore, the rate at which it evaporates. Good Luck!

Carlin Jamieson-Dolan: Different coloured objects absorb different amounts of heat. A black car for instance will get significantly hotter on the inside than a white car. Another reason the uncoloured water may be evaporating faster is because the food colouring chemical itself takes longer to evaporate. The colour of the dye may in fact have nothing to do with it.

Jessica:  Your basic problem is whether the increased life of your roses when in coloured vases is due to temperature changes, or changes in bacterial growth. To see if it's the temperature, use all clear vases, but heat some of them a few degrees warmer to simulate the heat effect of the coloured glass. If the roses in the heated vases last longer or shorter, then the heat has an effect on either the rose stems or the bacteria. If not, it doesn't.

Then, you just need to see whether rose life is affected by vase colour, apart from the colour's effect on temperature, but I don't know how you would do that. You would have to make both both your coloured and clear vases maintain the same temperature, and if the rose life still varied between them, you could probably assume that the change was due to different frequencies of light entering the vases and affecting either the rose stems or the bacteria.

For your experiments, I suggest using distilled water to eliminate the possibility that heat or light frequency is affecting some component of your tap water.Good luck with your experiments.
p.s. I'm going to have to get some "tincture of iodine"!

Links to More Science Projects

Here's a compilation of all the pages with  information from students who are conducting scientific color experiments.

Color and Heat Absorption

Plant Growth and Light Color

Does color affect taste?

You might also be interested in:

How do animals see color?

Does a bull really see red? Do bees have super vision?
Don't miss this page at Color Matters: How Animals See Color


Color Voodoo

Color & Heat Absorption

This is a compilation of information from students who are conducting scientific color experiments about color and heat absorption.

#1 - I am doing a science fair experiment on color vs. heat absorption. I need ideas on research.
#2 - When using a thermometer, is it better to use cloth or construction paper?
#3 - Is it better to use a light source or the sun? Ben Franklin's research with cloth and snow sounds interesting. Has anyone tried to set that one up?

Best Scientific Answers
Color and Heat Absorption - from "Ask a scientist"
Color and Heat Absorption - from MadScientst Network
Best Student Experiment

Heat Absorption and Emissivity  - Information from others

JP: As you probably already know, dark colors (black) will heat up more than light colors (white). Try using thermometer strips sold at pet stores (to stick on the insides of reptile cages to monitor temperature). They're cheap, don't break, are flat so you can put them under a piece of paper (if that's what material you're using) to check your temperatures. Try some materials with different reflective surfaces too (foil; shiny black vs. rough-surfaced black for example).

Chris Willard: I would follow Ben Franklin's observations, put different colors on a block of ice (he used snow). Set the ice in the sun and observe how the darker colors melt down into the ice faster (presuming it will, I've not tried this). another idea might be to set a thermometer under pieces of cloth that are set in the sun or under a lamp to measure different temperatures.

Anonymous: White reflects more energy than black does. Absorbed energy is of course not destroyed but usually converted to heat so the answer to your question is yes, makes a difference.

Mac: Color can affect heat absorption because of  emissivity. A number of variables can enter into the picture, so if you conducted an experiment, you'd need to proceed carefully, to avoid skewed results. Emissivity would probably be the key differentiator in your question. (Look up emissivity in the dictionary).

Given two identical glass containers - one being of one color A and another being of another color B and that they would be filled with, say, some identical heated liquid, and then allowed to cool -

And given that the emissivity of container colored A and the emissivity of container colored B is substantially different, then the rates of cooling would be different. [You would need to measure or otherwise determine what the 'emissivity' of each specifically colored glass is.]

Emissivity of materials is of significant concern in some industries - for instance - if you are building a spaceship - and you want to keep parts of the spaceship cool or other parts warmer. The 'color' (more precisely, the emissivity) of the surface of the ship will determine whether that portion of the spaceship will be cold, cool, warm, or hot.

There are lists that give the values of emissivity of various materials - in books on spacecraft design, thermal properties handbooks, and similar texts.

Two of the main attributes you would want to look at in an experiment that would demonstrate this would be 1. the material's emissivity and 2. the material's thermal conductivity.

To remove multiple external variables from your experiment - you might want to place both of the glasses of liquid into a black box (keeping them out of sunlight/away from external heat / light sources). Don't put them in the microwave either! :-)

And if do perform an experiment - if you use two thermometers or thermocouples, be sure they are calibrated. And gosh - publish your findings here if you do perform the experiment.

If you paint one glass Black and the other glass White, which container do you think will cool faster? Any hunch?

Anonymous: About the absorption of heat and emissivity in coffee cups: The cups would take heat energy from the coffee at same rate, given same material of cup, as this is conductive heat transfer, while the white cup will radiate heat to surrounding air more slowly than the black cup, and so in total the black cup of coffee will cool down quicker.

Encyclopedia Color Design

An excellent student experiment about color and heat absorption

The following is documentation of a student's experiment with color and heat absorption. We only know her as "Madeline" and here's the research that she posted on the bulletin board at Color Matters, January, 2000. 

Does the amount of thermal energy (heat) produced by a colored fabric after 30 minutes of intense light relate to its position in the spectrum?

When a color (colored fabric) absorbs light, it turns the light into thermal energy (heat). The more light a color absorbs, the more thermal energy it produces. Black fabric absorbs all colors of light and is therefore warmer than white fabric which reflects all colors. I predict that the colors of the spectrum appearing the darkest and most like black (violet, indigo, and forest green) will produce the most thermal energy. The other colors (red, orange, and yellow), will produce the least thermal energy because they appear lighter or more like white.

1. a thermometer (preferably an indoor/outdoor thermometer because they have the largest temperature range)
2. a 1’ x 1’ piece of heavy corrugated cardboard
3. tape
4. a clock, stopwatch, or timer
5. sunlight (If you’re short on sunlight, use a with a halogen floodlight, at least 100 watts. A halogen bulb is a good choice because it has a high light intensity and its light spectrum is very similar to sunlight.)
6. six 100% cotton T-shirts (or pieces of cloth) in red, orange, yellow, forest green, indigo, and violet

A simple way to measure how much thermal energy a colored material produces is to measure the changes in its temperature:
1. Tape the thermometer in the center of the cardboard. Make sure the tape doesn’t cover the thermometer bulb.
2. Set the cardboard/thermometer indoors, out of direct sunlight.
3. Lay the red cloth over the cardboard/thermometer so it is touching the thermometer bulb.
4. Set the lamp so the bulb is 2 feet away from and perpendicular to the cardboard/cloth.
Turn the lamp on.
5. Position the cardboard/cloth so the thermometer bulb is in the center of the beam of light.
6. Wait 30 minutes, then record the temperature under the cloth.
7. Turn the light off and take the cloth off the cardboard.
8. Repeat steps 3 through 8 using each of the other colors of cloths. (Orange, yellow, forest green, indigo, violet.)
9. Repeat the experiment at least 6 times and calculate the average temperatures for each color.

My hypothesis is correct. The darker colors (forest green, indigo, violet) produced the most thermal energy after 30 minutes of intense light. The lighter colors (red, orange, yellow) produced smaller amounts of thermal energy. (The average recorded temperature (°F) for each of the colors is shown in Graph 1.) Interestingly, the temperatures of the fabrics fell in to two groups instead of increasing as the colors got closer to violet. The difference between the temperatures of the red, orange, and yellow fabric was minimal, only 10ths of a degree. The same thing was true for violet, indigo, and forest green fabric. However, the difference between the temperatures of the two groups was a little more than 3 degrees (Fahrenheit). In conclusion, even though violet, indigo, and forest green are generally referred to as "cool" colors, you will be warmer if you wear them! You may not be any warmer if you wear blue instead of green, or green instead of purple. Similarly, it won’t make a difference if you wear red instead of yellow, or yellow instead of orange, but on a hot day, wear one of the warm colors!

Gardner, Robert. Science Projects About Light. Springfield, New Jersey: Enslow Publishers, Inc., 1994, p. 92
Morton, J.L. Color Matters - ElecroMagnetic Color - 1995-1999

About Light
There are many different kinds of light. The different kinds have different wavelengths. Ultraviolet light, for example, has a wavelength of 10-8 meters. Visible colors have a wavelength of about 10-6 meters, the diameter of a bacteria. Infrared light also has a wavelength of about 10-6 meters, but has a longer wavelength than the visible colors. The different colors of visible light have different wavelengths, but the wavelengths are very similar. Violet light has the shortest wavelength, is the coolest, and is closest to ultraviolet light. Red light has the longest wavelength, is the warmest, and is closest to infrared light. The other colors of visible light increase in wavelength and warmth as they get closer to red and infrared light. (For example, yellow light has a longer wavelength and is warmer than indigo light.)

When you shine white light (the light that includes all the visible colors) on a colored object, the object will appear to be the color of the light it reflects. All the other visible colors are absorbed. If the object reflects a warm color (red, orange, yellow) it will be cooler than an object which absorbs them. For example, if you shine light on a blue object, it will absorb the warm red light, and will be warmer than a red object which would reflect that light.

Results of Experiment (completed 8 times)

Cloth Color Red Orange Yellow Dk. Green Indigo Violet
Temperature( F) 76 77 76 80 81 78
78 76 77 76 82 78
76 77 78 83 79 82
76 79 77 80 81 84
78 78 76 86 83 82
78 75 78 81 82 80
78 78 79 79 78 84

77 77 77 81 81 80 Standard Deviation 0.991031 1.246423 1.035098 2.915476 1.642081 2.390457
Average Temp. ( F) 77.13 77.13 77.25 80.75 80.88 81


Does a pink jail cell calm an angry prisoner? Will a pink locker room make a football team weak? Find out at Color Matters: Drunk Tank Pink

Links to More Science Projects

Here's a compilation of all the pages with  information from students who are conducting scientific color experiments.

Does Color Affect Taste?

Color and Water Evaporation

Plant Growth & Light Color

You might also be interested in ...
Does a pink jail cell calm an angry prisoner?
Does a pink jail cell calm an angry prisoner? Will a pink locker room make a football team weak? Find out at Color Matters: Drunk Tank Pink

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