Glow in the dark science

Glow in the dark science

A colourful introduction to science

Through a one day series of interactive activities themed around the uses of fluorescence in modern biomedical sciences, primary school children can develop their scientific knowledge in a playful manner. The series makes use of a number of 'activity stations' where children learn the basics about how fluorescence works, can observe glow-in-the-dark fish and fruit flies, as well as try their hand at keyhole surgery.

  • Station 1: The children are explained the basis of how fluorescence works by using examples of objects that are familiar to them. Using an UV light source in a dark box they are shown how a particular type of light can make everyday objects (detergent, baby powder, tonic water, toothpaste etc) glow in the dark.
  • Station 2: Here, using low-magnification dissection microscopes, the pupils can observe living fruit fly, fish and chick embryos at different developmental stages.
  • Station 3: Using dissection microscopes fitted with a UV light source, the children can observe fluorescently labelled embryos of the same species. This activity is used to demonstrate how the researchers use fluorescence in our regular experiments to label tissues, organs or cells of interest.
  • Station 4: Here we demonstrate the usefulness the fluorescence in medicine. This is inspired by current trials in the USA where doctors are using fluorescent dyes in order to improve the efficiency of surgical procedures to remove tumours. At this station children will get an opportunity to operate on a 3d model of a heart or brain covered in green fluorescent ‘cancer cells’ placed in a dark box under UV illumination. To simulate a more realistic scenario, the pupils perform surgery while watching their hand movements on an adjacent computer screen.

We welcome prospective enquiries from primary schools in Southwark that are interested in participating in the Glow in the Dark Science project. To register an interest, please fill out our online form.

This project was developed by Andreia Carvalho, Clemens Kiecker, Esther Bell and Adna Dumitrescu. It is supported by a grant from the King’s Public Engagement small grants fund.