Science project

Way To Glow

Difficulty of Project (Easy, Medium, Hard)

Medium Cost

Approximate Cost

Varies, less than $100 for powders and paints. If you're on a budget, be sure to ask for samples or buy the value packs!

Safety Issues

All materials, although non-toxic, are not edible. Please do not get of the materials into your eyes. Immediately flush out with water if eye-contact is made and seek medical attention.

Material Availability


Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project (hours, days, weeks)

About 3-5 days, with research time and write-ups included.


  • What is the project about? Students will investigate the illumination durations and intensities of different luminous substances of different colors of the spectrum.
  • What are the goals? As a result, students will gain knowledge (and have FUN while doing it) as well as know what and why a certain color has a longer glow time/glows brighter than others through experimentation and research.

Materials and Equipment / Ingredients

What materials are required?
  • Glow powders in the colors of the spectrum- red, orange, yellow, green, aqua, blue, violet, white
  • Glow paints in the colors of the spectrum- red, orange, yellow, green, aqua, blue, violet, white
    • (Please note that for the glow-product, experimenters are required to know what it is made of; if this is not on the label, please ask the manufacturer or retailer for this information)
  • Labels and Jars for all substances and colors
  • A bright light source such as a florescent lamp
  • A very dark room
  • Video camera with timer to record progression (a tripod is highly recommended)
Where can the materials be found?

Glow powders and paints can be obtained at a local craft store, specialty stores, or on the internet. They may be costly if you buy separately. The best way to get around this if you're on a budget is to buy in value packs or ask for samples. Labels and Jars can be found at a general store or a drug store as baby food jars are a very popular,”green”, and economical choice for projects. Many households already contain bright light sources, but these lamps can be alternatively obtained at hardware stores. Video cameras can be bought at electronic stores.


Background information

Everyone enjoys a little light in their life. Kids are especially fascinated with the eerie, ethereal glow that is given off by luminous substances. They're fascinated with the fact that it can produce such a special light with no batteries or electricity. Green is without a doubt the most popular glowing color we have today and it is with a reason. But why?

It is a fact that different substances make these different colors. Each of these substances have their own chemical compositions that can absorb more or less light. This causes a difference in wavelengths, glow intensity, and glow duration.

Diagrams and Pictures

Research Questions

  • What are the different substances that luminous materials are made of?
  • What are the properties of their compositions?
  • How do these substances sustain their special glow without the use of an external power source for the duration of their glow?
  • What are the individual wavelengths of the different colors of the spectrum?
  • Why are certain colors more difficult to create than others?

Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research

Phosphorescence, electrons, photons, wavelengths, properties of light, basic knowledge of chemical composition

Experimental Procedure

Note: This is to be done in a room that is available to be undisturbed for the duration of the experiment. You must be able to turn the light source on to “charge” the substances and turn all light sources completely off after they receive their boost. A pitch black room is highly recommended. 

  1. Gather all materials and place each color/ substance in a small separate jars with distinguishing labels that mark the color.
  2. Place these substance-filled jars side-by-side in a line for clarity under florescent lamps. It is recommended that 2 lamps be used and the powder be separated from the paints to insure an even, controlled illumination.
  3. Set the video camera on a tripod (and to night-mode), timer, and direct it at the experiment. You can turn the camera to record at this point. 
  4. Turn on the lamp(s) so that they get charged at exactly the same time for about 1 minute.
  5. After 1 minute, turn off all light sources so that the room is completely dark (except for the glow of the substances).
  6. You can expect to have this set-up for at least 12 hours. The ideal time to check on the experiment would be at 15 hours. During this time you can record your initial thoughts on the color intensities. You can either give a numerical rating or a description for this.
  7. Once time is up, check on the experiment and record your observations by looking at the recorded video as well as what is in front of you.

Diagrams or Pictures

               b) Experimental Setup 


Suggested chart for recording data
Color Intensity Rating
Glow Duration
Other Notes
References to related books

Kendell, David Fluorescence And Phosphorescence (2008)

Longair, Malcolm. Theoretical Concepts in Physics (2003) 
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Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.

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