We’ve already learned a lot about color with light in this month of color exploration, but to really understand the science of color, you need to get out the finger paint.
Who doesn’t love finger paints?
Finger painting is the perfect way to teach your kids about the science of color. They’re made for exploring. They can be layered and mixed, and maybe best of all squished between your fingers.
(You can’t do this with light.)
Let’s do a quick review of colors and light.
As we’ve already seen by making rainbows, white light contains all the colors of the rainbow.
That means that when you combine colors of light, you get lighter and lighter until you get white. This is known as additive color synthesis, which is how colors are shown on television and computer screens.
What do you think happens with paint?
Pea and Pie discovered that paint does not work the same way that light does.
When you mix colors of paint, you’re mixing pigments. You end up with a darker and darker color until you get black. This is known as subtractive color synthesis. This is how colors are mixed in painting or when printing a colored page.
If white light contains all of the colors, why doesn’t mixing all of the colors of paint give you white?
Mixing paints gives you black because the more colors of pigments you mix, the more colors your paint is absorbing. That means that it’s reflecting fewer colors.
When we see color, we’re really seeing the wavelength of light that is reflected. The object we’re seeing absorbs the rest of the colors.
We see the color white when an object reflects all of the colors and absorbs none.
We see the color black when an object absorbs all of the colors and reflects almost none.
With the color black, your eye perceives an absence of color (which we see as black).
They thought that was pretty cool, but maybe the best part for them was discovering all of the colors between black and white.
What colors will you discover with your paints?
Want to keep exploring at home? Get the free How to Build a Robot from A to Z digital picture book and join Rosie on her imaginative journey as she builds her robot, Index.