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Fluorescent Jelly Ball AKA Water Bead Experiment!

Download the FREE worksheet to use with this experiment below!

We have been doing more hands on science projects lately! This is one of our more recent projects! Illuminating, fluorescent, black light activated jelly balls! We looked at why the fluorescent gel we used reacts they way it does in black light, the many stages of growth the jelly balls go through, and of course, how and why it all happens!

We got everything we used for this one from a glow science kit, but you don’t need to buy the whole kit to do this yourself! This is a seriously easy, cheap, quick, and fun project to do! All you need is fluorescent gel/paint, jelly balls (AKA water beads. Clear works best, but we use many colors and sizes.), water, a black light (the kit came with a finger light we used, but you can buy those super cheap on Amazon, almost any dollar store, or Wal-Mart), and some kind of container. We choose the test tube because it was more “science-y” according to the kiddo, 😂 😂 but you can use anything really. Fill your container with the water and enough fluorescent gel/paint to change the waters color and make it much less transparent. Stir well, then add the balls.

Grab a notebook and have your children inspect the balls and take notes! What did they look like initially? How quickly did they start to change? What was the first thing you noticed when adding the balls? What did they look like after 5 minutes, 15 min, 30 min, etc.? On and on for as long as you’d like. The first time we did a water bead experiment we checked them every 5 min for 30 min, then every hour until bed time, and finally we left them overnight and checked them out in the morning. What will happen to your jelly balls if you leave them overnight? Of course one of the first questions we had after the beads grew was what do they fell like now? How different would they feel compared to the ones we didn’t add to the test tube? Would they feel different from previous beads we have used due to fluorescent gel we use? What happens when we use the black light on them? Pour a few balls out, did they bounce? Using the black light in the dark, shine it in the spots the balls bounced, what do you see?

After doing the initial experiment and answering the questions above, we found we still had even more questions to answer! Which actually turned this little project into a multiple day experiment! We asked things like how would adding water repeatedly change and/or add to this experiment? What exactly, if anything, would happen if we kept adding water? Would the balls get any bigger? Would the balls begin to grow so much that they started to crumble or lose their structural integrity in any way? Would the water dilute the fluorescent gel more and more, to the point that we could no longer see it, or it could no longer be visible under the black light? And since the beads can be dried out and used again and again, naturally we needed to know, would the fluorescent gel change the balls in anyway once they were dried out? We compared the dry fluorescent balls to the ones we didn’t use to see if there was any change. Since we used multiple colors, we also checked to see if the colors were changed any after dried out due to the fluorescent gel.

We have done many other projects using water beads before, including testing how long it takes them to dry out and shrink back to the original size under different conditions. So naturally we also tested to see if the fluorescent gel altered the drying process any. We compared our current dried out water bead notes to those we took during the previous water bead experiments to see if there were any differences. Did the fluorescent gel slow or speed up the drying? We also examined them to see if the fluorescent gel was released upon drying, or if it simply evaporated like the water had in our previous drying experiments!

This quick project really can provoke a lot of questions and learning, and of course, a ton of fun!

We love doing projects with jelly balls/water beads, and definitely plan to do more in the future! We’ve already started planning out our next experiment and the questions we want answered during it! Check out a few of our upcoming questions below!

I hope this little project is as fun for y’all as it was us! Did you ask the same questions? I know what answers we got, but what did you discover? Did you have questions we didn’t consider? What were they? Do you have a different, unique water bead experiment in mind? What questions would you ask?

Let me know via my contact page or email! I love to hear from all of you out there and how you’re experiments turn out, and/or differ from ours!

A few questions for our next water bead experiment include:

Does using various water temperatures make any difference?

Does the type of water used make a difference?

What happens if we put the balls into various other liquids besides water?

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