Glow In The Dark Easter Egg Hunt

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For all those tricky Easter Bunnies out there, here's a new twist on setting up an Easter Egg hunt - do it at night! With a little science, you can add a makeover to this annual holiday event! But wait, how are you going to light up your eggs? We asked Penn State Chemistry student, Robert Zhang, to help us understand what is called: CHEMLUMINESCENCE - or liquid light! So he put together this great description.

Chemluminescence - How is liquid light possible?Glow Sticks

Here's a cool way to add some science to your Easter Egg hunt this year! Open a package of glow sticks and snap them inside your plastic Easter Eggs and have your Easter Egg hunt in the dark!

It's easy, once you have your glow sticks, follow the instructions to snap the ampule inside the plastic tube. Breaking the ampule inside results in two special chemicals mixing together - producing a reaction that gives off light! We like to call this liquid light!

How does it work?

In this world, all things are made of extremely little elements. Some of these particles are called protons, neutrons, electrons, photons, and so on. Protons, neutrons and electrons make up relatively larger units -- atoms. The atoms are so small that without advanced equipment such as electrical microscopes people cannot see them. As for photons, they make up light. Like protons or other elements, photons are extremely small; unlike other elements, photons are always moving at a speed of about 3x108 m/s (meters per second). That is 1 million times faster than how fast your parents drive a car on the highway!Snap glow sticks inside of plastic eggs.

There are different types of atoms. Imagine that one atom can be made up by 3 protons, neutrons and electrons and another can be made up by 100 protons, neutrons and electrons. Different atoms can act in different ways. A molecule is uniquely grouped with the same or
different atoms. As different atoms act in different ways, different molecules act differently, too.
In the demo, the mentors mixed two cups of different kinds of liquids. One cup contained a kind of molecule called luminol, or the technical name 5-Amino-2,3-dihydro-1,4-phthalazinedione. Another cup contains mostly water but there is sodium hydroxide (also found in soap) and hydrogen peroxide (also found in mouthwash or toothpaste). These three molecules will react with each other and create a new kind of molecule called 3-amino-phthalhydrazide. The newly created 3-amino-phthalhydrazide is ‘excited’ but wants to stay in a more stable state, its ground state. It does this by releasing photons which are the sources of glowing light.

The reaction is shown in the diagram below:

Reaction showing the conversion of Luminol to 3-Aminophthalate


Step 1: luminol reacts with sodium hydroxide

Step 2: the product in the previous reaction changes itself to another form

Step 3: the result from previous step continues to react with hydrogen peroxide

Step 4: luminol becomes excited 3-amino-phthalhydrazide.

Step 5: excited 3-amino-phthalhydrazide releases photons and goes back to its original state (ground state)


Basket of glow in the dark Easter eggs