Physics for Kids: Exploring Color and Temperature {Summer Science Series}

Physics is the theme for week 4 of our Summer Science Series with Edventures with Kids. Today we’re exploring color and temperature with a fun experiment.  Affiliate links are included in this post.

Physics for Kids: Color and Temperature Experiment

Heat Wave

Heat Wave by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Betsy Lewin tells the tale of the town of Lumberville. A heat wave has hit the town. The townspeople try to cope but the heat just won’t let up. Eventually, they all wind up by the river dreaming about rain. This book got us talking about the heat of summer. I thought it was the perfect springboard for an experiment about heat and temperature.

Here are two more related books we enjoyed.

  • Heat Wave by Helen Ketteman is quite hilarious. A heat wave is wreaking havoc on the farm. The corn is turning into popcorn; the cow’s milk is turning into butter; flowers get up and walk to the shade. A young girl saves the day. Everything in this book is exaggerated and that just makes it extra fun.
  • Experiments with Heat by Salvatore Tocci. This book has 9 experiments that explore heat. The experiments are a fun hands-on way for kids to learn about conduction, absorption, the greenhouse effect, and more.

Physics for Kids: Exploring Color and Temperature

How does color affect the temperature of an object? Conduct an experiment to find out. You’ve probably noticed that on sunny days, you feel a little cooler in a white shirt than a black shirt. This is because white reflects all wavelengths of light {colors}. Black absorbs all of the wavelengths of light. We tested the temperature change of containers of water covered with different colors of paper. Here’s what we did.


  • Containers (we used peanut butter jars)
  • Water
  • Paper of different colors (white, black, and any other colors of your choice)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Thermometer (we used an instant read infrared thermometer)


  1. Fill 4 containers with water. Be sure the temperature of the water is the same. What is their starting temperature?
  2. Cover each container with a piece of paper.
  3. Place the containers in direct sunlight or under a lamp.
  4. Wait about an hour and then measure the water temperature. {You could also test their temperature every 5-10 minutes to observe what happens.}

Physics for Kids: Color and Temperature Experiment

Our jars of water started at 72°F. After an hour or so in direct sunlight, we measured the temperature of the water. The water in the jar covered with black paper had a temperature of  75°F. The water in the red and blue jars had a  temperature of  74°F. The water in the  jar covered with white paper had a temperature of  72°F.

We currently have a break from the summer heat. Our high on this day was only 75°F. How would a hotter day have impacted the results? We used evening sunlight. How would morning or afternoon sunlight affect the results?

Remember that white reflects light, so the water temperature should be the lowest under the white paper. Black absorbs light, so the water temperature should be the highest. Other colors reflect and absorb light differently depending on how much pigment they have and a host of other factors. The results with other colors will vary.

Summer Science Series Weekly Reading Themes

Summer Science Series

Week 1: Biology

Week 2: Geology

Week 3: Astronomy

Week 4: Physics

Week 5: Chemistry

Week 6: Ecology

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get exclusive science explorations for young scientists in each issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *