Exploring Fluorescence

We are so lucky to live on such an incredible planet. Fluorescence is present in nature around the world and this lesson guide will help you to explore that and open children's eyes to the magic around us. 

 

Tonic water contains quinine, a naturally occurring alkaloid chemical which fluoresces under ultraviolet light. It absorbs the ultraviolet light and re-emits it as visible light, making it a fun way to experiment and explore fluorescence at home. 

A little about quinine
Quinine comes from the bark of several species of cinchona trees which has been used to treat malaria since 1632. Found in South American, Central America, the islands of the Caribbean and parts of the west coast of Africa. Although quinine is sometimes still used as a medication against malaria in a pill form, it has a list of possible toxic side effects.

It is used in small doses (diluted with water) as a flavour component in tonic water, giving it a bitter taste. 

Please note - You will need a black light for these experiments.


Fluorescent Ice Discovery

  1. Get some containers or ice cube trays. Freeze regular tap water and tonic water, separately. 
  2. Wait until night, remove ice from the freezer and crush it, spread it around on a tray under a black light and see how the tonic water glows a bright blue in comparison to the tap water ice.