Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Reflection and Absorption of Light

Figure from experiment 7 from Agricultural Science with Vernier


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.


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 features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

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

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Agricultural Science with Vernier »

Agricultural Science with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Introduction to Data Collection
2Acids and Bases
3Diffusion through Membranes
4Conducting Solutions
6Respiration of Sugars by Yeast
7Reflection and Absorption of Light
8Soil pH
9Soil Salinity
10Soil Temperature
11Soil Moisture
12APhotosynthesis and Respiration (CO2)
12BPhotosynthesis and Respiration (O2)
12CPhotosynthesis and Respiration (CO2 and O2)
14ACell Respiration (CO2)
14BCell Respiration (O2)
14CCell Respiration (CO2 and O2)
15The Greenhouse Effect
16Energy in Food
17AEnzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
17BEnzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
18ALactase Action
18BLactase Action
19Oxygen Gas and Human Respiration
20Biochemical Oxygen Demand
21Animal Temperature
22Lemon "Juice"
23Ohm's Law
24Energy Content of Fuels
25Photovoltaic Cells
26Wind Power
27Watershed Testing
28Interdependence of Plants and Animals
29Biodiversity and Ecosystems

Experiment 7 from Agricultural Science with Vernier Lab Book

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

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