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In this two-part activity about luminescence, learners explore the chemistry that happens inside glow sticks and other light producing reactions. First, learners build a ground state model and a excited state model of light. Then, learners use glow sticks to perform chemical reactions to make light (chemiluminescence) and test how well the reactions work at different temperatures. These activities are part of the "Passport to Chemistry Adventure" kit but the kit is not necessary to have in order to facilitate the activities.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 3 glow sticks
  • 1 beaker and cap
  • 2 wall and 2 energy level pieces
  • 2 
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • 2 safety goggles
  • water
  • freezer
  • notebook
  • scissors
  • Velcro dots


  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
    • Measurement
      • Rate
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Energy
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
    • Vibration and Waves
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Shaw, Maisie ; Gomez, Maria


  • All rights reserved, Passport to Chemistry Adventure Program, Mount Holyoke College, 2010

Funding Source:

  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.