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Candy Science: Color and Reflection
written by Rebecca Vieyra and Caroline Hall
In this lesson, Part 2 of the AAPT Color Science trilogy, students use colored candies, LED lamps, and/or smartphone flashlight apps to further investigate color perception. A red light source, green light source, and blue light source will be separately shone on opaque candies of varying color (i.e., M&Ms) and translucent candies (Gummi bears). This allows learners to predict how color perception changes through light filtration or color mixing. The activity explores how pigments are similar to filters (and work by subtraction of light). Part 1 of Color Science explored RGB color addition; this lesson carries the idea forward to examine the colors cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMY). These are known as the Primary Subtractive Colors because they can be formed by subtracting one of the Primary Additive Colors (red, green, or blue) from white light.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
- Color
Oscillations & Waves
- Wave Motion
= Reflection, Refraction, Transmission
- High School
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Laboratory
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
- Assessment Material
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
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Rights Holder:
American Association of Physics Teachers
CMYK color model, color subtraction, primary subtractive colors, subtractive colors
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created June 2, 2017 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
June 2, 2017 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 15, 2016

Next Generation Science Standards

Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer (MS-PS4)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials. (MS-PS4-2)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Electromagnetic Radiation (PS4.B)
  • When light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object's material and the frequency (color) of the light. (6-8)
  • A wave model of light is useful for explaining brightness, color, and the frequency-dependent bending of light at a surface between media. (6-8)
  • Atoms of each element emit and absorb characteristic frequencies of light. These characteristics allow identification of the presence of an element, even in microscopic quantities. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Cause and Effect (K-12)
  • Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. (9-12)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • Investigating or designing new systems or structures requires a detailed examination of the properties of different materials, the structures of different components, and connections of components to reveal its function and/or solve a problem. (9-12)

NGSS Nature of Science Standards (K-12)

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Record Link
AIP Format
R. Vieyra and C. Hall, , 2016, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14334&DocID=4696).
R. Vieyra and C. Hall, Candy Science: Color and Reflection, 2016, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14334&DocID=4696>.
APA Format
Vieyra, R., & Hall, C. (2016). Candy Science: Color and Reflection. Retrieved March 27, 2023, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14334&DocID=4696
Chicago Format
Vieyra, Rebecca, and Caroline Hall. "Candy Science: Color and Reflection." 2016. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14334&DocID=4696 (accessed 27 March 2023).
MLA Format
Vieyra, Rebecca, and Caroline Hall. Candy Science: Color and Reflection. 2016. 27 Mar. 2023 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14334&DocID=4696>.
BibTeX Export Format
@techreport{ Author = "Rebecca Vieyra and Caroline Hall", Title = {Candy Science: Color and Reflection}, Month = {June}, Year = {2016} }
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%A Rebecca Vieyra %A Caroline Hall %T Candy Science: Color and Reflection %D June 15, 2016 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14334&DocID=4696 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Report %A Vieyra, Rebecca %A Hall, Caroline %D June 15, 2016 %T Candy Science: Color and Reflection %8 June 15, 2016 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14334&DocID=4696

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Candy Science: Color and Reflection:

Accompanies Glowstick Science: Glowstick Color Lab

A link to Part 1 of the AAPT Color Science trilogy, which covers RGB Color Addition.

relation by Caroline Hall

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