Science of Colors

Barbara J. Feldman

To understand the science of colors, we must first know something about the nature of light. Light is an energy source that behaves like a wave. The distance between the each wave is called the wavelength. Light of different wavelengths appear as different colors. Intrigued? Here’s where you can learn more.

  • BrainPOP Rainbows4 stars

    "What is it called when white light spreads out into many different colors? A: diffraction B: reflection C: rejection" This fun page explaining rainbows is just one of dozens that BrainPOP offers on science, technology and health. It features a Flash movie, followed by a quiz and printable activities. As for the answer to the quiz question, you'll just have to log on, watch the movie, and take the self-grading quiz for yourself!

  • Color Matters5 stars

    "Color plays a vitally important role in the world in which we live. Color can sway thinking, change actions, and cause reactions. It can irritate or soothe your eyes, raise your blood pressure or suppress your appetite." This incredibly extensive site is my pick of the day for high school students and adults. It includes sections on the science, sociology and art of color with titles such as Color & Vision, Color & The Brain, Color & Design and Color & The World.

  • Colors of Light3 stars

    "The color of an object depends on what happens as light hits it. Objects absorb some colors and reflect others. The colors you see are the colors reflected by the object. A green leaf absorbs all colors except green. It reflects green, so green is the color you see." This McGraw-Hill site addresses the difference between the primary colors of light (red, blue and green) and the primary pigment colors used when painting (magenta, cyan, and yellow). It concludes with a multiple-choice quiz appropriate for mid to upper elementary grades.

  • Make a Splash with Color5 stars

    "The eye is a very complicated machine with lots of special parts. Light enters and travels through our eyes, and then messages go out the back of the eye to the brain. These messages create colors in our mind." This color tutorial from The Tech Museum of Innovation is my pick of the day for middle school students. My favorite click is the Talking About Color chapter on hue (the color of a color), saturation (the pureness of a color) and brightness (the strength of a color.) Still confused? Try the interactive experiments and discover hue, saturation and brightness for yourself.

  • Understanding Color4 stars

    "This site is designed to provide you with information on how color plays a role in our lives by examining the properties, theories, meanings and effects of color. It offers a cross-curricular approach by making connections between the art, the science, the psychology and/or sociology of each aspect of color." Written by anonymous high-school students for the ThinkQuest Internet Challenge, Understanding Color includes student activities and lesson plans for teachers.

  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!


    Cite This Page

  • Feldman, Barbara. "Science of Colors." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 20 Sep. 2000. Web. 4 Dec. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/colors/ >.


  • About This Page

  • By . Originally published September 20, 2000. Last modified September 20, 2000.

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