See the Light

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Learners mix a solution of luminol with hydrogen peroxide to produce a reaction that gives off blue light. Learners discover that some chemical reactions release energy in the form of light, and that this process is called chemiluminescence. Activity guide includes examples of chemiluminescence in nature and commercial products. This activity is currently used in the Chemical Reactions Unit in OMSI's Chemistry Lab. Cost estimates are per 100 students.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • One small dark opaque bottle
  • Two 10-ml graduated cylinders
  • Two 250-ml squeeze bottles
  • NaHCO3 (sodium bicarbonate) (keep 1000 g on hand)
  • Na2CO3 (sodium carbonate) (keep 200 g on hand)
  • (NH4)2CO3 (ammonium carbonate) (keep 100 g on hand)
  • CuSO4
  • 5H2O (copper sulfate) (keep 100 g on hand)
  • C8H7N3O2 (luminol (3-aminopthalhydrazide)) (keep 25 g on hand)
  • 6 500-ml brown plastic bottles
  • One 1000-ml brown plastic bottle
  • One 1 liter plastic bottle
  • 3% H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) (1 Iiter) — OR — 30% H2O2 (100 ml)
  • Black tape
  • One 50-ml glass beaker


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Solutions
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


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



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation