Reflection and Absorption of Light

Figure from experiment 7 from Agricultural Science with Vernier

Introduction

Would you feel cooler wearing a light or dark-colored shirt on a hot, sunny day? The color and texture of an object influences how much radiant energy from the sun it will absorb or reflect. Every color reflects a certain amount of light while absorbing the rest as heat energy. The amount of reflected light is called the color’s light reflectance value. Dark colors with low light reflectance values tend to reflect little light while absorbing lots of heat energy, whereas light colors with high reflectance values reflect a lot of light and absorb little energy. People in warm, sunny climates are more likely to purchase light-colored cars since they don’t heat up as quickly as dark-colored ones. Many house paints come with a predetermined light reflectance value to guide consumers when making color choices for their homes. Since the Earth’s surface is made of many colors and textures, it is heated unevenly. Snow, ice, and clouds reflect a lot of energy back into space while green forests and vegetated lands absorb energy.

In this experiment, you will investigate the relationship between the percent reflectivity of various colors and the temperature change due to energy absorption. You will measure the amount of light reflected from paper of various colors using a Light Sensor and calculate percent reflectivity. You will also measure the temperature change of the air under the paper due to energy absorption by the paper using a Temperature Probe.

Objectives

In this experiment, you will

  • Use a Light Sensor to measure the amount of reflected light.
  • Calculate percent reflectivity of various colored paper.
  • Use a Temperature Probe to measure the energy absorbed from light.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment requires each of the following Vernier sensors and equipment (unless otherwise noted):

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Download Experiment Preview

The student-version preview includes:

  • Step-by-step instructions for computer-based data collection
  • List of materials and equipment

Note: The experiment preview of the computer edition does not include essential teacher information, safety tips, or sample data. Instructions for Logger Pro and other software (such as LabQuest App or TI handheld software, where available) are on the CD that accompanies the book. We strongly recommend that you purchase the book before performing experiments.

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Standards Correlations

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Experiment 7 from Agricultural Science with Vernier Lab Book

<em>Agricultural Science with Vernier</em> book cover

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