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Effect of temperature on glow sticksFeatured science projectScience project video

Abstract

This science fair project was conducted to determine how temperature can affect the length of time a glow stick remains lit. The experiment was done by placing a glow stick in water with a temperature of 5C, 15C, 25C, 35C and 45C.

Hypothesis

The light from a glow stick will extinguish more quickly at higher temperatures.
 

Scientific Terms

Chemiluminescence, diphenyl oxalate ester, hydrogen peroxide, phenol, peroxyacid ester, photons

Background

Glow stick

Glow sticks are plastic tubes containing chemicals that produce a temporary glow of light when they are mixed together. This process is called chemiluminescence, where light is produced by a chemical reaction without an electrical source.

The chemicals used in the glow stick consist of a fluorescent dye with diphenyl oxalate and hydrogen peroxide. Mixing the chemicals causes a reaction which produces peroxyacid ester and phenol. The decomposition of the peroxyacid ester into carbon dioxide releases energy that excites the atoms in the fluorescent dye, causing it to release particles of light called photons.

Glow sticks are constructed of 2 internal containers which separate the chemicals. A small and fragile container is encased in a larger and more flexible outer container. When the plastic stick is bent, the fragile wall of the smaller container breaks and the 2 chemicals mix, producing light which makes the stick glow.

Glow sticks are popularly used during parties, night parades, concerts and festivals.  Glow sticks are also useful in places that do not have a power source and they are regularly used by campers, divers and military personal. Another application for glow sticks is in places that have been struck by disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes or tornadoes. These places pose the danger of gas leaks and since glow sticks do not produce sparks, they are safe to use in such situations.
 

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Complexity level:
4
Project cost ($):
30
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 2 hours for observation
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

None