Week 4 (10-10-16) Color Confusion–rods and cones

So what doesn’t necessarily cross the mind until you hand 9 and 10 year olds glass jars with food coloring in them is how potentially stained just about everything in the room could become.

But…(maybe you can still hear my sigh of relief)…we escaped with only minor spills on the table.


What we’re doing here is testing the cones in our eyes by again (just like last week) trying to differentiate the varying shades of color in each set of jars.


Each of the jars has a label on it–a letter from A-F.


However, lining up the jars in alphabetical order is only how we begin. Alphabetical order is not the correct order of the jars. Each person takes his own turn and aligns the jars in order from weakest color to darkest color. Then he writes this order down on his paper. When he’s done, he realigns the jars in alphabetical order for the next person.


Before we moved the jars around, we talked again about variables. We’ve defined a variable as something that can be changed.  In this experiment the only variable we want to change is the amount of food coloring in each jar. All other variables must be the same–the amount of water in each jar, the way the jars are labeled, and how the jars are aligned before each student begins.


There was great care taken in discerning which colored jars went where.


And there were just as many methods tried. Getting down to eye level.


Placing a piece of white paper behind the jars.




and reordering the jars…


Until we were satisfied.


When every person had tested their eyes against each color set of jars, I placed the jars in their correct color orders from weakest to darkest. (I’d recorded this information before class started).


Then each person wrote down the correct jar order on his sheet, so that he could compare it to the order he’d guessed.


The results gave us an idea of which colors (red, yellow, and blue) we’re excellent or pretty good at differentiating within its various shades. But the results were frustrating for a few who had “wanted to get the right answer” but had mixed up a few shades.

This concept of observation neither being right or wrong is one we’ll have to go over and over.


Blue was tricky–as many of us mixed up two shades somewhere in the middle.


The same was true of red.


But when we were finished seeing the results, we took our primary colors–red, blue,and yellow (which we’d also discussed beforehand) and poured colors into cups to create our own rainbows.


If kids didn’t know what combination of colors made orange, green and purple, they had to experiment. Finding a satisfying purple was the hardest.


Here we are living dangerously…


In the name of rainbows and science…


And the belief that learning should capture our attention.


Another great day.

And a final glance at the board.


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