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ERIC Number: EJ1082763
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Dec
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
The "Chocolate Experiment"--A Demonstration of Radiation Absorption by Different Colored Surfaces
Fung, Dennis
Physics Teacher, v53 n9 p545-547 Dec 2015
In the typical "cookbook" experiment comparing the radiation absorption rates of different colored surfaces, students' hands are commonly used as a measurement instrument to demonstrate that dull black and silvery surfaces are good and poor absorbers of radiation, respectively. However, college students are often skeptical about using their bare hands in this experiment because they learned in early science lessons that skin is not a reliable detector of heat transfer. Moreover, when the experiment is conducted in a school laboratory, it is often difficult for students to perceive the slight differences in heat transfer on the dull black and silvery aluminum leaves attached to their hands. Rather than replacing students' bare hands with such sophisticated apparatus as a data logger and temperature probe, I suggest using a simple (and delicious!) low-cost instrument, i.e., chocolate, which simply melts when it receives radiation.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A