The Nature of Color Subtraction—A Guided Inquiry Experience

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Journal of College Science Teaching




Many college students profess to have an understanding of the nature of color. The study of color begins in the early grades, so it makes sense that students should feel confident regarding their knowledge. However, oral questions to probe understanding reveal a rather narrow student view of the origin of color. Ask students why an object appears blue and many will respond that this is because all colors of the rainbow are absorbed by materials in the object except for blue. While this is one possible explanation, it reflects a rather narrow view of color absorption. The phenomenon of color is rather intricate and subtle, and this activity is designed to expand on students' understanding of the origins of color.