Detail Page

Item Picture
Glowstick Science: Glowstick Color Lab
written by Rebecca Vieyra and Caroline Hall
This cross-disciplinary lesson blends physics, chemistry, and life science as students use liquid from glow sticks to investigate RGB color addition. The purpose of the activity is to promote understanding of the difference between mixing the primary colors of light (red, green, and blue) and mixing paint pigment, as well as the nature of light. Activated glow sticks are light-emitting objects; thus, mixing different glow stick colors will produce RGB color addition, which is not possible with paint or other pigmented light-reflecting objects. This lesson was inspired by the following articles in The Physics Teacher journal: "Glow Sticks: Spectra and Color Mixing", by J. Birriel and I. Birriel; and "As Easy as R.B.G.", by L. Parsons.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
- Color
Other Sciences
- Chemistry
- Life Sciences
- High School
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Laboratory
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
- Assessment Material
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Educators
- Learners
- application/pdf
- application/ms-word
  • Currently 0.0/5

Want to rate this material?
Login here!

Safety Warnings
Eye Protection Must be Worn   Safety Gloves Must be worn   General Danger  

Access Rights:
Available by subscription
Available to members of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Link to join:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license.
Rights Holder:
American Association of Physics Teachers
additive colors, chemiluminescence, color addition, exothermic reaction
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created June 1, 2017 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
June 5, 2017 by joseph muse
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 15, 2016
Other Collections:

Next Generation Science Standards

Matter and Its Interactions (MS-PS1)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred. (MS-PS1-2)

From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes (MS-LS1)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories. (MS-LS1-8)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Chemical Reactions (PS1.B)
  • Substances react chemically in characteristic ways. In a chemical process, the atoms that make up the original substances are regrouped into different molecules, and these new substances have different properties from those of the reactants. (6-8)
  • Some chemical reactions release energy, others store energy. (6-8)
Electromagnetic Radiation (PS4.B)
  • When light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object's material and the frequency (color) of the light. (6-8)
Information Processing (LS1.D)
  • Each sense receptor responds to different inputs (electromagnetic, mechanical, chemical), transmitting them as signals that travel along nerve cells to the brain. The signals are then processed in the brain, resulting in immediate behaviors or memories. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Cause and Effect (K-12)
  • Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. (9-12)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • Investigating or designing new systems or structures requires a detailed examination of the properties of different materials, the structures of different components, and connections of components to reveal its function and/or solve a problem. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (K-12)
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. (9-12)
    • Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation of phenomena and solve design problems, taking into account possible unanticipated effects. (9-12)
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
R. Vieyra and C. Hall, , 2016, WWW Document, (
R. Vieyra and C. Hall, Glowstick Science: Glowstick Color Lab, 2016, <>.
APA Format
Vieyra, R., & Hall, C. (2016). Glowstick Science: Glowstick Color Lab. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from
Chicago Format
Vieyra, Rebecca, and Caroline Hall. "Glowstick Science: Glowstick Color Lab." 2016. (accessed 4 October 2022).
MLA Format
Vieyra, Rebecca, and Caroline Hall. Glowstick Science: Glowstick Color Lab. 2016. 4 Oct. 2022 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@techreport{ Author = "Rebecca Vieyra and Caroline Hall", Title = {Glowstick Science: Glowstick Color Lab}, Month = {July}, Year = {2016} }
Refer Export Format

%A Rebecca Vieyra %A Caroline Hall %T Glowstick Science: Glowstick Color Lab %D July 15, 2016 %U %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Report %A Vieyra, Rebecca %A Hall, Caroline %D July 15, 2016 %T Glowstick Science: Glowstick Color Lab %8 July 15, 2016 %U

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

Glowstick Science: Glowstick Color Lab:

Accompanies Candy Science: Color and Reflection

A link to Part 2 of the AAPT Color Science trilogy, which covers CMY Color Subtraction.

relation by Caroline Hall

Know of another related resource? Login to relate this resource to it.
Save to my folders



Related Materials

Similar Materials