ABS 2023
Quantifying color in the classroom: a laboratory activity
Justin W. Merry. Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA, United States

Portable reflectance spectrometers have revolutionized the study of light and animal coloration. Those benefits can also be realized in classrooms, where reflectance spectrometers can teach students about animal color and perception. Nevertheless, there are practical challenges. For example, many educators may not have access to more than one spectrometer. Here, I describe a classroom activity in which students use a spectrometer, along with the spectrum analysis R-package, pavo, to analyze colors in published color spaces. The activity begins with an instructor-driven demonstration of the spectrometer, making use of student volunteers and objects that they provide. Once students understand how the spectrometer works, and how to interpret spectra, small groups are given a pre-written color analysis script that they can use to analyze their choice of one or more sets of previously recorded spectra. These materials allow them to quantitatively address a variety of questions, such as the influence of trichromatic vs. dichromatic color vision on crypsis, directional vs. diffuse reflectance, and perception of ultraviolet. Handouts, R scripts, and example spectra will be available.