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PPG Foundation takes 'The Great Color Caper' to Carolinas

Educational Outreach About Science, Colors

Sue Sloan is chasing an evil villain, called "Monochrome," across the United States and she wants as many young students as possible to help her defeat him … and in the process have fun learning about the science behind color.

Sloan, executive director of the PPG Industries Foundation, recently teamed with Discovery Place, a nonprofit science museum in Charlotte, N.C., to present "The Great Color Caper" – an educational outreach program about science and technology. It's a two-pronged initiative that combines a school assembly with hands-on science activities for kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

The Great Color Caper was unveiled at PPG's fiber glass plants at Lexington, N.C., Shelby, N.C., and Chester, S.C., and the company's nearby coatings plant in Greensboro, N.C. School officials, community leaders and PPG employees were given special presentations before The Great Color Caper opened to the public through Discovery Place.

The program uses interactive multimedia to enable students to help solve the mystery of the missing colors of a fictional town named "Spectropolis" after Monochrome steals the colors from the city. The comic-book style theme teaches students about the nature of light, energy, reflection and how colors are derived from light and pigments.

"Students become 'color cadets' and help the presenters figure out how to defeat Monochrome and win the colors back," Sloan said. "It teaches kids about the nature of color and the science behind it. We're excited to be expanding and delivering this program to an increasing number of students."

The Great Color Caper program began in Pittsburgh in 2006 when the PPG Industries Foundation partnered with Carnegie Science Center. “The foundation, whose mission is to enhance the quality of life in communities where PPG has a presence across the nation, wanted to expand the program into the communities around PPG manufacturing sites because of the program's success and the excitement it has created at schools," according to Sloan.

"Teachers and schools really need to work hard to get students excited about math, science and technology. The Color Caper engages students, and we encourage PPG employees to bring the program to their community schools," Sloan said, adding that the foundation is examining the possibility of expanding The Great Color Caper to other communities.

PPG employees may apply for Public Education Leadership Community Grants (PELC) grants from the PPG Industries Foundation to bring The Great Color Caper to public schools in their communities.


April Simpson, team leader at the Chester, S.C., plant, sees that by changing the length of light waves passing through a transparency, the human eye perceives different colors.​

By overlapping transparent color samples, Dino Malaj, operations manager at Chester, creates new colors and shades.​

This van transports "The Great Color Caper" to schools, community centers, and PPG sites.