Neon Fluid Spiral

A very simple and inexpensive black light can be easily configured from a “Clamp Lamp” from the hardware store and an inexpensive UV light from the reptile section of a pet shop.

Items

  • Beaker
  • Black light
  • Distilled water
  • Highlighter pen
  • Ice

A very simple and inexpensive black light can be easily configured from a “Clamp Lamp” from the hardware store and an inexpensive UV light from the reptile section of a pet shop.

Your students can use the black light module to examine samples to phosphor containing compounds such as detergents, eye drops, tonic water and nontoxic fluorescent dyes from a highlighting pen soaked in distilled water. If your students stir a container of very cold distilled water with fluorescent highlighter, then pour the cold liquid into a beaker or warm distilled water under the inexpensive black light unit shown in this illustration, they will see very clearly the principle behind a thermocline, or the action of warm and cold liquids and the heat energy moving through the liquids through convection currents. I call this simple demonstration a Neon Spiral and ask kids to predict what they will see beforehand in a simple sketch and explanation for their science notes.

The “Clamp Lamps” are very inexpensive, simple to assemble and use, suitably durable for lab experiments and easy to store as well. I like to keep them in all of my science classrooms and use them often when my students are studying the behavior light rays and nature of light energy.