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Glow Jars – Fireflies in a Jar

Have you caught fireflies in a jar on a warm summer night? It’s magic to watch the little bugs flash their taillights as they buzz around in the dark. But fireflies are not readily available in all areas of the United States. Here’s a fun and easy activity to make your own firefly glowing jars while learning the science of glow.


·         Small or large jars with lids

·         Glow Powder (Zinc Sulfide)

·         Atomic Glow

·         Elmer's Glue

·         Paint brush or cotton swab

·         Black light (if using Atomic Glow)


This experiment is quick and easy.

1.       Wash your Mason jars so they are clean of any debris

2.       Mix the Atomic Glow or Glow Powder with Elmer’s glue. Make sure there is enough power or dye to make the glue substance glow under a black light.

3.       Stick the paint brush or cotton swab into the glowing glue and paint inside the jar. Make dots, paint pictures, drip it along the sides and let it run down.

4.       Let dry

5.       If you used Glow Powder, charge the jar under any type of light – sunlight, flashlight, lightbulb – then turn off the lights. The jar will glow for a few minutes.

6.       If you used Atomic Glow, this dye will only glow under a black light. Place your jar next to or on top of the black light and turn it on.

7.       Wait for ooohs and ahhhs.

Allow about 20 to 30 minutes for this activity. It takes about 5-10 minutes to set up, and depending on the complexity of your glow designs, painting can take 2 to 20 minutes to complete. Let dry for at least 30 minutes before touching. Lids can be replaced and jars will glow right away.

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