|MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology|
Hello Carly! The answer to your question is "it depends". Black isn't really a color. It's the absence of color. Because of this, black absorbs all of the light that hits it, and some of that light turns to heat. Black fabric that is exposed to sunlight will get hotter than white fabric will, because the white fabric is reflecting much of the light that hits it. If you are wearing a black tee shirt under a coat, the black tee shirt won't make you any warmer, because it is protected from the sun by your coat. If you are wearing a black coat, you probably won't feel any warmer either, because there are a few layers of insulation between the black outer fabric and your skin. Buf if you are wearing a black tee shirt without a coat in the sun, the tee shirt will feel warmer than a white one would. But wearing the black tee shirt to bed wouldn't keep you any warmer at night than a white one would - unless you're napping in the sun. Since this project is for a science fair, you could get two thermometers, wrap one in white fabric and the other one in black fabric, and put them in the sun or under a heat lamp. What do you think will happen after 30 minutes? Write down the temperatures after 30 minutes and compare your theory with the results of your experiment. Can you think of a way to prove that the differences in temperature on the two thermometers is due to the color of the fabric and not to some other factor? Good luck Carly, and thanks for the question. Layne Johnson
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