Tag Archives: DIY

DIY Fluorescent Bubbles

If you’ve ever seen objects under a blacklight – like clothes or highlighters – you may have noticed that some things glow when they’re hit by that kind of light, and others don’t. The things that are glowing are fluorescing! Fluorescence in this case is caused by an interaction between high energy UV light (from the blacklight) and some of the electrons in that object. When that high energy light strikes the object, those electrons are able to absorb the energy from the light for a short period of time. However, the electrons soon let go of that energy, emitting it as a slightly lower energy light. The light that they release is the glowing that we see!

Today at Astrocamp, we wanted to see if we could make fluorescent soap-bubbles. It not only worked, but also turned out to be pretty easy and something you can do at home! We’ll show what we did, step by step, so that you might be able to recreate this experiment yourself!

Making the Fluorescent bubble mixture:




  • Bubble Solution. We made our own with dish soap and water. If starting with bubble solution, skip steps 1 & 3!
  • Fluorescent Highlighters. Yellow tends to work best!
  • Bubble Wand
  • Blacklight
  • A knife or scissors



First, add a bit of dish-soap so a container. We used a small styrofoam bowl, but you can use whatever you like.. A tablespoon of soap should be enough, but you may need more depending on the amount of water you add later.

Second, carefully cut the back-end off of a highlighter and remove the inkpad. You will need an adult for this part! Then do your best to squeeze as much highlighter-ink as you can into the bowl. In our experiment, we used a yellow highlighter. To cut our highlighter, we used a pair of scissors. For brighter bubbles, add more ink to your mixture by removing the inkpad from more highlighters! You will probably get a bunch of ink on your hands. Don’t worry! It is non-toxic, and will make you look very cool with the blacklight!


Finish up your bubble mixture by adding water. Your bubble mixture should appear still appear “soapy” after adding water. If you think you added too much water, add more soap!

Lastly, to make the mixture fluoresce, you’ll need a black light and a dark room. To make the bubbles, you’ll need a bubble wand. If your bubbles aren’t working well, add more soap or water. If they aren’t very bright, you can add more highlighter. One was enough for this video, but your blacklight may not be as bright.

What you’re seeing

When you’re blowing your bubbles and seeing them glow under the blacklight, you’re seeing fluorescence! The electrons from the atoms in the highlighter-ink are absorbing the high-energy, invisible UV light from the blacklight and emitting it as a slightly lower energy light that we can see – as a bright glowing.

Fireproof Balloon & How it Changed the World

The balloon in the video isn’t anything special. It’s a completely normal balloon filled with completely normal water. However, water is quite extraordinary!

We describe matter by listing its different properties. Some of these properties include how dense something is, its flexibility, its ability to conduct electricity, and even its color! Another less commonly known (but just as important!) property is called “specific heat”. This property is one of the things that makes water really interesting!

Specific heat indicates how difficult it is to heat up or cool down an object. For example, if you were to put two pots on a stove and fill one with air (by leaving it empty) and fill one with water, the air one would heat up much quicker even though the stove is adding the same amount of energy to each one! The water doesn’t heat up nearly as much while being given the same energy, meaning it has a very high specific heat.

This is exactly what happens in the video. The match is hot enough to melt the rubber and form a hole, causing the balloon to pop immediately! It actually pops before the fire even reaches the surface.Fire2!

With the water balloon through, the entire balloon can be engulfed in flame, and nothing happens! This is because the water absorbs the energy from the hot flame, but doesn’t heat up very much. The rubber never heats up enough to melt.Fire!

Specific heat works the other way too. Water also takes a long time to cool off. In this way, the specific heat of water actually shapes the climate on a global scale. Take a look at the image below. The snow cycles are much more visible in the Northern hemisphere because they only have to go over land. Ground has a lower specific heat than water, so during the winter it cools down more easily, allowing the cold to pass further south forming ice over most of the Northern continents. In the Southern Hemisphere, the water is much more difficult to cool down, and the icy chill barely even reaches the land!

Earth Seasons Specific Heat (1)

A Breathing Earth” by John Nelson, using images from NASA’s cloud free satellite imagery of Earth.

The Power of Air!


How did the can get crushed? You could see in the video it wasn’t pushed in by the tongs, so what did it!? This very simple experiment works because of something called Charles’s Law. Charles’s Law says that a gas will get bigger if it gets hotter, or smaller if it gets colder, as long as the pressure doesn’t change.

One thing that you can’t see in the video is that the water in the can is boiling. This means that the can is full of water vapor that is around 200℉! Next, the can is placed open-side down into a container of cool water, probably about 50℉. Note that we aren’t changing the pressure, so Charles’s Law tells us what happens next. The cold water cools down the water vapor, causing it to contract (and even condense!), but this is not what really crushes the can. The real culprit….is air.


Air doesn’t seem to weigh anything. We can’t see it, or pick it up and hold it in our hands very well. However, that doesn’t mean it is light! The atmosphere weighs a whopping 6,000,000,000,000,000 tons! The earth is pretty big, but that means that at sea level, there is about 15 pounds of air pushing down on every single square inch!

However, not everything gets crushed by the atmosphere. Your body effortlessly pushes back on the air to not get squished, just like the hot air in the can pushed out to keep the can from imploding. However, when the cold water cooled and contracted the air, there was nothing to push out against the atmosphere, and no way for the atmosphere to get in. So yes, the air just crushed it!

This is a great DIY experiment to do at home or try in class! It requires few materials, and can teach a lot of science! Charles’s Law is a very powerful idea, and is half of the Ideal Gas Law, which is seen in both chemistry and physics classes!

Note that this is the same principle that we used to get our egg into the bottle experiment!

Future of CDs and DVDs

CDs are dying.  It’s an unfortunate but inescapable fact as the world transitions to digital downloading.  But while the end may be in site for CDs and DVDs, it hasn’t come yet.  Before that day actually comes, perhaps we should take a quick look at this awesome technology and how it works.

A CD’s base a a polycabonate plastic material that is transparent.  It provides the structure and protection for the layers above it.  Above the polycabonate is a thin layer of aluminum reflective coating followed by another thin layer of crylic and then the label.  The most important part of a CD is that the polycabonate sheet is imprinted with a series of miniscule bumps.  The details of the bumps is a code that is what stores the data on the disc.  The bumps move outward from the center of the CD in a spiral pattern all the way to the edge.  The CD reader move along this track using a precise laser to detect the changes in the bumps and decode the data stored on the CD.

As CDs become less and less useful, perhaps we need to find other uses for them.  One entertaining DIY science trick we can do is to melt part of the polycarbonate sheet and blow it out to create a giant bubble.  Make sure to scrape off the aluminum sheet or else it won’t expand to its full amount.  Enjoy!

DIY Science Experiment: Egg in a Bottle

You might be asking yourself why you would want to put an egg in a bottle. The answer is, of course, for science! This is a great experiment for explaining the basics of the ideal gas law. Mainly, that gases expand and contract when they change temperature. Here we will explore how to actually do the experiment, and what the science is behind it.


  • Peeled hard boiled eggs. Note that if they crack during peeling, they will likely not survive the ordeal!

  • Bottle with a neck smaller than the egg. Erlenmeyer flasks work great!

  • Matches, or a small piece of flammable material

  • Workspace clear of burning hazards

That’s it!

Doing the experiment:

  • Read the steps first. They have to happen quickly!

  • Light a match or something small and flammable. A small piece of paper works great!. In the video, we use four strike-anywhere matches.

  • Drop your flaming object of choice into the flask. With matches, do it quickly! If you wait too long, there wont be enough fire to heat the air!

  • Put the egg on top of the flask so it completely covers the opening. This must be done quickly

  • Watch!

You should see the fire go out and the egg get sucked into the bottle shortly thereafter.

What happened?

The fire rapidly heats the air in the flash. Then, the fire should quickly become starved of oxygen and go out. Once the fire stops and the air begins to cool. The molecules in the gas slow down as it cools, decreasing the pressure inside the flask. The air pressure outside is then greater, and pushes the egg down the seemingly-too-small neck of the bottle. Because the air pushes equally from all sides, the egg stays intact, unlike if you had done it with your hand!

How do I get it out?!

There are three good ways to do this.

  1. Get something pokey, like a butter knife, and chop the egg into bits and dump it out. Messy. Not my favorite.

  2. Blow in behind the egg (like in the video–note, we shook the matches out first for safety). The hot air on your breath should be enough to push it out.

  3. Flip the flask over so the egg covers the opening from within. Run hot tap water over the base of the flask. As the air inside heats up, it pushes the egg out, simply doing the experiment in reverse!

5 Step DIY Tie Dye T-Shirts

DIY Tie Dye shirts are very popular here at AstroCamp especially during summer camp.  We want to take you through the process of making one of these awesome shirts. Only 5 Steps and your done!

Step 1: Make a solution of water and soda ash and soak the T shirt in it for 20 minutes.  The soda ash will bond with the dye and cause it to permanently stick to the fabric.  If you do not have soda ash then baking soda will work as a substitute but your colors won’t be quite as bright.


Step 2:  Twist and twirl and otherwise be creative with your shirt and rubber band it into place.  Different swirling patterns will change the pattern of the finished product.  This shirt will end up in a bulls eye pattern.


Step 3:  Apply the dye to the shirt.  The rubber bands can often be good guides for where to stop with one color and start another.


Step 4: Wrap the shirt in saran wrap and let it sit overnight.  After that rinse and hang the shirt until it is dry and ready to wear!


Step 5: Show it off to all of your friends!  ENJOY! If you want to do the same process then you can create tie dye pillow cases, bandanas, pants and more. Enjoy!


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