Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nifty Thrifty Gifty: UV Sensitive Beads

I first heard about these beads in our Apologia Astronomy book that we are using for science this year.  They were recommended as a neat extra project to learn about the sun’s rays and how UV light exists even when we think it’s cloudy or not overly sunny out.  I found them in lots of places throughout the states, but it took a bit more looking to find them in Canada.  Once I ordered them, I got to thinking : Not only is this a fun science project, it would be a great gift idea!
This is the item that helped me to stubble on, the neat site I mentioned in my earlier post.  The owner is great, they have awesome customer service and I would recommend checking out their site for all kinds of interesting science related gizmos!

The beads are white when they are in no UV light.  This package of about 100 beads is enough to make a few bracelets, or a couple necklaces alone, more if you mix them with regular pony beads.  DSC_0230

Once exposed to UV, they start to turn color.  These are the beads after sitting in the sun for a few minutes on my kitchen table.  It’s winter light here, so not bright, and it was through the window, so it’s amazing that there is still enough UV to change them!  Still, you can see how the colors start to appear.

My kids have t-shirts that work the same way, and they have always loved them.  They are looking forward to making bracelets and “testing” to see how much UV light there is in different situations.  Homeschool-wise, there I think there are several interesting projects I’d like to try with them.  You could smear your sunscreen on them, and see how much UV is really blocked by your favourite brands, or put some behind your sunglasses and compare them to a set right out in the sunlight.  Either the kids will learn the value of wearing the sunscreen and sunglasses, or maybe I’ll learn that they aren’t providing as much protection as I thought!

Gift-wise, I think they are just plain cool. I mean, common, they change color!  So many little girls love making bracelets etc. from beads.  This would be a more unique kind for them to play with, or share with their friends.

These bags were $5.95 each.  Granted, this is more than regular pony beads cost, but I think it’s worth it to have a few of these to play with.  I found them at too.  They are in the states however, and I figured that any cost savings on the beads themselves would be erased by the extra shipping, exchange and fees.  That site has a lot of cool science games and experiments too, and I may try ordering from there in the future.  If any of you do order from them, let me know how it went!

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