This October, let’s conduct a science experiment using glow sticks!
Playing with glow sticks is a fun, hands-on way for your young scientist to see how energy can be transformed from stored chemical energy to light energy. By simply submerging the glowing sticks in water your child can observe how brightness produced by the chemical reaction changes, depending on the temperature.
Crack two glow sticks to activate them. Place one in the freezer overnight. Leave the other at room temperature. Compare the glow sticks the next morning.
The Science Behind the Fun:
Stored energy is called potential energy. Glow sticks contain potential energy in the form of chemicals: fluorescent dyes and a chemical called hydrogen peroxide. No light can be released until the chemicals are mixed together. When you mix the chemicals together by cracking the glow stick, they react to make new chemicals and release excess energy in the form of light, transforming chemical energy into light energy. How brightly the sticks glow depends on the temperature of their environment.
Adding heat to a chemical reaction makes it happen faster, so adding heat to a glow stick makes it produce more light energy for a short period of time. However, a colder glow stick will glow longer since it’s reacting and releasing light energy more slowly.