Learning colors might sound like a kindergarten lesson, but a high school astronomy teacher showed West Ward Elementary School students a more sophisticated spectrum of colors.

Longview High School teacher David Temple introduced students to spectroscopes and showed how colors form when heat is applied to various materials, creating a sort of fingerprint identification.

Temple and Terri Carroll of XCor Aerospace presented science activities to West Ward students in March.

In one demonstration, Temple sprayed alcohol into beakers, which turned pink, blue, orange and white, revealing the materials hydrogen, mercury, neon and helium.

Using advanced computer systems, today’s scientists can determine the makeup of all kinds of substances using the color spectrum.

The application of color in science ranges from investigating bomb residue at an accident scene to identifying pollutants to getting an exact match on a gallon of paint.

The science works because colors are more complex than what the human eye sees.

The astronomy teacher showed how the sunlight at the horizon at the start and end of the day passes through more of earth’s atmosphere then sunlight directly overhead.

The air in the earth’s atmosphere scatters the blue light, creating shades of yellow and scatters the green light creating shades of orange, adding up to a fiery sunrise or sunset.

Despite what textbooks might say, the sun is not a yellow star, it’s white, he said. That’s why we see the moon and clouds as white.

Carroll continued a project with fourth- and fifth-graders she started in October during West Ward’s Space Week.

Students came up with experiments they would like to conduct on a suborbital flight. XCor builds the Lynx aircraft for such flights.

Fourth- and fifth-graders taking part in the experiment came up with suggestions for testing sound travel, fish behavior, soda can reaction and ant behavior in space.

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