Glow in the dark science experiments

Written by jen kim
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Glow in the dark science experiments
Make your own glow sticks for a science project. (DuncanL/iStock/Getty Images)

Glow in the dark experiments are fun activities for children of all ages. Whether students are working on a science project for school or simply curious about how light works in the dark, these simple activities will help teach children about the nature and function of black lights, fluorescent light and neon lights.

Black light

A black light is a lamp that produces ultraviolet light that is invisible to the human eye. Ultraviolet light emits radiation, which is reflected by phosphour or substances that gives off light when exposed to radiation. Test different products under a black light to see which items contains phosphors. Some items to try include skin, a white tee-shirt, paper and water. For a fun experiment, use petroleum jelly to write a word on a blank sheet of paper. Turn the lights off and turn the black light on to uncover the now visible message.

Phosphorescence powder

Make any object glow in the dark with this homemade recipe for phosphorescence powder. You will need to buy many of these items from specialist science shops. Dissolve small amounts of pure aluminium nitrate nonahydrate, europium nitrate pentahydrate, dysprosium nitrate pentahydrate and boric acid in a few millilitres of distilled water. Then stir in a few grams of pure urea. Heat the solution in a microwave for about four minutes. The resulting ashy substance will glow under a black light.

Neon soft drink

Turn your favourite soft drink into a neon drink with this fun science experiment. You will need baking soda, a glow stick, washing-up liquid, hydrogen peroxide and a bottle of clear soft drink, such as lemonade. Pour about three-quarters of the bottle into a large glass. Cut the glow stick and pour its contents into the bottle, along with a few drops of washing-up liquid. Stir in 2 ml (1/2 tsp) baking soda and 15 ml (1 tbsp) of hydrogen peroxide into the bottle. Replace the cap and shake vigorously. The bottle will begin to glow immediately.

Glowing water

Use ink from a highlighter pen to create neon water. Break apart a yellow or green highlighter pen. Remove the ink-soaked felt from the pen and place it in a small bowl of water. Mix the ink so that it spreads evenly. Add more water if you wish and continue to stir. You can use this water for other experiments or projects, such as glow in the dark bubbles or crystals. The water will glow under a black light.

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