See It to Believe It: Visual Discrimination

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In this activity (12th on the page), learners investigate their ability to discriminate (see) different colors. Learners arrange jars, each filled with water and different amounts of food coloring, in order from lightest to darkest. How good are they at seeing different colors? Variations for this activity include using different colors of food coloring, using more or less water to increase or decrease the difficulty, and testing different lighting conditions (dim vs. bright, for example).

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Food coloring: red, blue, yellow (mix them to make more colors)
  • Water
  • Containers
  • Eyedropper


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Sunlight and Color
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Chudler, Ph.D., Eric H.


  • All rights reserved, Eric H. Chudler, 2009