Halloween is our favorite holiday at the Spangler labs. Science and Halloween go hand in hand and there is nothing better than turning off the lights and bringing out spooky, glowing science to make all of the kids ooh and ahh. Whether you are planning a Halloween party, looking for unique decorations, or just wanting to have some fun with your own kids at home, here are some glowing activities you can do.
Phosphorescence vs. Fluorescence
Some materials glow after all the lights are turned off. This type of glow is called phosphorescence. A phosphorescent material absorbs and slowly re-emits energy in the form of light. Our Glow Powder used below is phosphorescent.
Some glowing materials will only work in the presence of ultraviolet light. These materials have a chemical property called fluorescence. Fluorescent materials absorb energy just like phosphorescent materials, but fluorescent materials re-emit their energy as light much quicker. That means the best way to see these materials in action is in a dark room with nothing but a black light. Atomic Glow is fluorescent.
Glowing Drinks and Glowing Geysers
Everyone loves to drop Mentos into Diet Coke and watch the eruption. At Halloween replace your Diet Coke with Tonic water and create glowing geysers. Tonic water contains quinine, a chemical that glows under a black light. Quinine was added to Tonic water to help fight off malaria. Tonic water still contains a small amount of quinine, which makes it a perfect material for glowing geysers. Don’t forget to also freeze Tonic water in an ice cube tray for glowing ice cubes. Drop them in punch, turn out the lights, click on the black light and wait for the oohs and ahhs. You can also make glowing drinks by mixing the Tonic water with another clear liquid like Sprite. It may not taste terrific, but it will look super cool.
Glowing Mad Scientist Cylinders
For a simple, yet cool effect, fill cylinders with water and add a few drops of Atomic Glow. The water will take on an eerie greenish glow when exposed to black lights.
Instead of carving your pumpkins, make them glow. Using contact paper, cut out face pieces or designs for your jack-o-lantern. Stick them to the pumpkin and then spray sticky adhesive (found in a craft store) to the pumpkin. Next, sprinkle Glow Powder or Zinc Sulfide over the pumpkin. Wait for the pumpkin to dry. For a less messy, less toxic version for younger children, mix the Glow Powder with Elmer’s Glue and let the kids paint the pumpkin. Glow powder is always fun to use in place of glitter or crayons.
For more activities and ideas to make your Halloween Glow in the Dark, read the experiment.