In the Classroom

Science Discipline(s)




Electromagnetic radiation




Activity Title

Glow Powder Drawings



  • 2 black lights (1 with cord attached)
  • Heat gun
  • 4 pieces of glow powder paper
  • 1500 sheets of black construction paper
  • Box of toothpicks
  • 6 zinc sulfide glow powder jars (16 ounces)
  • 7 salt shakers
  • Small LED light
  • 1 power strip
  • 2 funnels (large and small)
  • 23 school glue bottles
  • 21 pencils
  • Roll of bright green tape
  • 8 small black lights (on a key chain)
  • Paperweights (optional)




  • Filled salt shakers with the glow powder using funnels
  • If needed, the black construction paper needs to be cut into sheets about the size of a regular
  • piece of paper
  • Refilled glue bottles with glue
  • Sharpen pencils
  • Plug in black lights into power cord


  1. Draw out a picture using a pencil
  2. Use the glue to draw on the black paper. May also use toothpicks to draw with glue
  3. Sprinkle glow powder on drawing using salt shaker
  4. Remove the excess powder over the tray and wait for glue to dry or use a heat gun to make glue dry faster
  5. Place drawing under a black light so that it will glow in the dark
  6. Kids may take drawings home



  • Can you describe what is happening when I put the drawing under the black light?
  • Do you think it can glow brighter and longer?
  • How can you make the drawing glow brighter and longer?



Zinc sulfide has a property called phosphorescence in which a material absorbs energy from an electromagnetic radiation source and re-emit that energy as light. When a material absorbs light energy, such as a flashlight, its electrons from the ground state in a lower orbital move to an ‘excited’ state in a higher orbital. If the light source is removed, the electrons move from the higher state back to its ground state, slowly losing its energy and emitting light. This creates the glowing effect of materials.

Next Generation Science Standards

This activity can be demonstrated at the middle school grade levels. From this fun art project and science activity, students will learn about electromagnetic radiation and phosphorescence. Another alternative to implementing this in the classroom is giving students a flashlight and a dark paper bag with an object that glows. Tell the students to shine the light onto the object for about a minute, then turn the flashlight off. They will be able to observe the object glowing in the dark and how it phosphorescent quality. The NGSS standards that pertain to this activity is MS-PS4-2, develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.