Tuesday, November 17, 2015

STEM: Glow in the Dark!

I have always wanted to experiment with glow in the dark paint and today I finally got to! We also got to play around with neon paint which was a huge hit! I am so excited to share this program with you all. 

Age: My program was geared towards K-3 but this program definitely could be for older children up to 5th grade too! 

Time: 45 minutes

Glow in the Dark Lava Lamp Materials:
Clean plastic soda bottle with cap or glass mason jar with lid
Vegetable oil (the cheaper the better)
Alka Seltzer (or similar antacid tablets)

Neon paint and glow in the dark paint
A UV light (also called a black light) if possible

Here is some of the paint I bought from Meijer:

Glow in the Dark Bracelet or Bead Maze Materials: 
Glow in the dark beads
pipe-cleaner or stretchy string*
*younger kids may have trouble putting beads on the string so a pipe-cleaner bracelet might be a much easier.

You could also have them make glow in the dark pipe-cleaner sculptures if you have Styrofoam squares! I blogged about making pipe-cleaner sculptures here

Optional Materials:
Glow in the dark bracelets from the dollar store as a freebie gift (they were cheap! Only $2 for 16 of them!) 


The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton, Illustrated by Tony Persiani

Another option: What Was I Scared Of? A Glow-in-the-Dark Encounter by Dr. Seuss (this book looks awesome under a black light)


1) First we started the program by reading  the book, The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton. The book is quite long so I will admit that I did paraphrase a few of the pages because some of the younger kids in kindergarten were started to look restless. The 2nd graders seemed to have no problem listening though. It's such a perfect book for this program though as it talks about how these two brothers discovered the glowing chemical  --  "Together the brothers built their own ultraviolet lamp. One night they took it into their dad's drugstore. In the darkened storeroom, they aimed the light at the bottles and boxes on the shelves. There, in the dark, the chemical stained label on a bottle of eyewash emitted a yellow glow." The book features the very materials we need for this program! Black (ultraviolet) lights, neon fluorescent paint and glow-in-the-dark paint. So perfect!

2) Afterwards I began to talk about our little science experiment. I asked the children "What happens when you mix oil and water? Raise your hand if you know!" One child did say "They don't mix!" And I said, yes! That's right. Let's see it in action now. I then did a simple demonstration and showed them how we would mix 1/4 of the bottle with water and then fill the bottle with Dollar Store vegetable oil so it was about 3/4 full. 

3) Next, I told the children I was going to squirt some neon and glow-in-the-dark paint into my bottle. 

4) Then, I added an alka seltzer tablet and showed them the amazing lava lamp effect!

5) I then read the following paragraphs from the Steve Spangler Website to explain how it works:
"First of all, you confirmed what you already knew… oil and water do not mix. The molecules of water do not like to mix with the molecules of oil. Even if you try to shake up the bottle, the oil breaks up into small little drops, but the oil doesn’t mix with the water.
When you pour the water into the bottle with the oil, the water sinks to the bottom and the oil floats to the top. This is the same as when oil from a ship spills in the ocean. The oil floats on top of the water. Oil floats on the surface because water is heavier than oil. Scientists say that the water is more dense than the oil.
Here’s the surprising part… The Alka-Seltzer tablet reacts with the water to make tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. These bubbles attach themselves to the blobs of colored water and cause them to float to the surface. When the bubbles pop, the color blobs sink back to the bottom of the bottle. Now that’s a burst of color! Your own homemade lava lamp… groovy baby!"
6) I had bottles prefilled with 1/4 of water just to save time. Next, I had children take turns pouring oil into the bottles. Some of the younger kids didn't want to do it so I did it for them which was fine by me. They enjoyed seeing the oil and water together and watching the oil settle on top. 
7) Next I told the children to add paint of their choice.  I said to add about 6 squirts and they were good at following the rule on that!
8) After children were done adding their paint I told them to break up the Alka-Seltzer tablets into four pieces and put them into their bottles to watch it fizz and bubble!
10) After adding their Alka-Seltzer tablets, they got to see the amazing lava lamp effect! I also allowed them to carry their bottles to the counter where the black light was sitting. They were in awe of the glowing colors and seemed mezmerized. The kids asked questions like "Will it ever stop doing that?" I told them that yes, eventually the bubbles would settle but the oil and water would still not mix. It was a fun teaching moment. 

See it in action:

11) After this the children made their glow-in-the-dark bracelets! It was a really fun program and I would definitely do it again!
More pictures: 

Hope you enjoyed this blog entry today. If you have any other suggestions for glow in the dark experiments feel free to share them in the comments!  

1 comment:

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