Light as Energy – Fluorescence and the Photoelectric Effect

Fluorescence is a phenomenon that arises out of the interaction between certain materials and certain frequencies, or energies of light. It is one of the most visually stunning light-matter interactions observable. Who isn’t amazed when invisible light suddenly becomes visible, or when green light turns into red? This very simple and inexpensive hands-on, inquiry activity brings the science of fluorescence to light – and qualitatively demonstrates the photoelectric effect.

Grade Range: 9 to 12+

Duration: 1/2 Hour – 1 Hour


  • Fluorescent markers (yellow, orange and pink)
  • Rainbow glasses
  • A set of LASER Blox, red, green and violet

NGSS Connections

PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation

  • Evaluate the validity and reliability of claims in published materials of the effects that different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation have when absorbed by matter. (HS-PS4-4)
  • Photoelectric materials emit electrons when they absorb light of a high enough frequency (HS-PS4-5)
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