Lightsticks and Luminescence
Things that glow in the dark can seem like magic, but they’re really chemistry! Visit these links to learn how luminescence works, to experiment with lightsticks, to see why an internet Mountain Dew video was a fake, and more.
- Extraction of Glow Stick Dyes
You'll see green in this lightstick experiment—but not in the way you might think.
- How Bright Is Your Glow Stick?
Layer some electronics work on top of your chemistry as you make your own tool to measure light intensity.
- Temperature and the Rate of a Chemical Reaction
How low can you glow? Investigate what happens when you change the temperature of a lightstick.
- Light Sticks—Liquid Light
More temperature changes! Dip them in hot or cold, then swap. How long does the change take?
- Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie
Link children’s literature and chemistry with this easy-to-do lightstick activity for younger children.
- Sugar Glow
Crush it! There’s a triboluminescent glow waiting for you inside these small cubes.
- Spark in the Dark
Materials needed: dark room, wintergreen candy, and your mouth. Let’s go!
- Duck Tape Triboluminescence
Tear it. Stick it. Rip it. Watch it glow!
- Illuminating Luminescence
There’s more to luminescence than just light sticks. See where you can find it in everyday life.
- Day Glo Fluorescent Pigments
Read the story of these scientist brothers whose glowing research began with an unfortunate accident.
- Glowstick Goo Show and Tell
It's chemistry in pictures. What can it show you about luminescence?
- The Chemistry of Glow Sticks
What’s your favorite color? Find out the dye that makes it happen in a lightstick.
- What Is Chemiluminescence?
Dust off your chem vocab as you take an in-depth look at the science behind this light, including “living glow sticks.”
- What's That Stuff? Lightsticks
Learn about early research into chemiluminescence, with fireflies for inspiration.
- How Light Sticks Work
It seems simple—snap a lightstick, shake it up, and watch it glow. But there’s a lot of chemistry packed into that little tube!
- Light Stick Colors
Find out where lightsticks get their different-colored glow.
- Mountain Dew Glow
It’s a fake! Learn why the glowing Mountain Dew YouTube video was a hoax.
- Living Light: The Chemistry of Bioluminescence
There are more than just fireflies out there. Find more glowing creatures, along with their chemistry.
- How Do Fireflies Glow? Mystery Solved After 60 Years
A firefly glows in the lab—without a firefly. See what scientists have learned.
- Glow Table
Woodworking gets its glow on in this elaborate project. Check out the results!
(all sites accessed October 2019)