Week 3 (10-3-16) Color Confusion

I remember asking the hypothetical question to my younger self over and over again, “if you had to be blind or deaf, which would you choose?”

Only I couldn’t. I just couldn’t choose sometimes.

Until I knew, just knew that it was my eyes–I couldn’t bear to live without my eyes.

In Monday’s class we discussed what it means to be colorblind, to only see the world in muted shades of dark and light. We talked about the rods and cones in our eyes–learning that the rods help us to see in black and white, and that the cones are responsible for how well we see in color.

Then we set out to test how well the cones in our eyes could differentiate the shades of the same color.

The aim was to test our cones on three different colors–yellow, blue and red.

This was part of our equipment–6 jars–soon to hold half a cup of water apiece, and red, yellow and blue food coloring.


In hindsight, which has perfect vision, there are a number of better ways to pull this off with 8 kids desperately wanting to get their paws on those jars.

But this is how we started. We talked about variables, what they are, why they matter in a science experiment, and why we were trying to keep all of ours the same.

Here Cody and Wyatt are making sure our first variable is the same–they’re measuring half a cup of water into each jar.


Their precision matters. And yet it also eats up precious time.


Here is where we recorded our data.

In a moment each jar will contain either one, two, three, four, five or six drops of food coloring–all of the same color. The jars will have a hidden label with letters A-F, respectively. The job of each observer will be to put the jars in order of lightest to darkest.


Let’s get this party started.


So what’s the problem with this picture?


There’s only one observer at a time.



Which means that seven others are waiting their turn.


Which is why we have this tray of treasures.


Here we studied the tray. Then when the tray was taken away, we had to identify as many of the objects on the tray as we could remember.


Quite a few good observers here.


Next with the tray, an item was removed and each observer had to identify which thing was missing.


So while our color confusion was going on in the back of the room…


And kids were proving that they’ve got pretty good cones…


This was going on in the front.


Things got a little trickier when the blue jars all looked the same.


More concentration was required.


More focus.


But more satisfaction when those jars lined up correctly.


Looks easy, huh?


We finished class having observed just two of the three colors–blue being much harder to differentiate than yellow. We never got to red, and we never had a chance to discuss our results in part or in whole.

And I don’t want to leave us there. In fact, I’d like to do the entire experiment again. Only better. 18 jars, six for each color. 3 adults working with three kids at a time. Kids analyzing and observing…the whole time. I believe there will be better value in having done it completely and having done it well.

Ah…such is the learning curve.

I’m looking forward to next week. Smooth. Efficient. And fun.

Take care, All!


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One Response to Week 3 (10-3-16) Color Confusion

  1. Ellie says:

    Looks like a lot of fun and no learning to me. Thank you, Jeanne!


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