Welcome to ON(line)SC's Virtual Learning!


Good evening Naturalists! 


We hope you've been enjoying our “Nature at Night” unit, and have been using these activities as a chance to explore the world around us after dark. 


This evening, we'll be looking at luminescence-light!  Specifically, it is light that is produced without heat.  What are some natural things that we can find that glow at night? 


One of our favorite thing to find glowing after dark in many parts of the country this time of year are fireflies!  These tiny little blinking creatures delight young and old with their light.  Other living things like fungus, algae, and angler fish are able to use chemicals in their own body to generate light. This is called bioluminescence, light from a living thing.  Reflect for a little bit on how living things might use light.  Why would a living thing use the energy from the food it eats to produce glowing chemicals?  What benefits would that have?  Take some time to research your favorite glowing organism, and draw a picture of it in its environment! 


Another type of luminescence that can be seen in living things is fluorescence, and can be seen by shining an ultraviolet light on certain living things.  Here at ONSC, one of the most common fluorescent animals is the millipede.  These many-legged arthropods like to hide during the day, but come out to forage on decomposing material at night.  Other living things in this area that fluoresce include scorpions and flying squirrels!  In these cases, the animals don't glow on their own, but their bodies take light in from their surroundings and release it back out in forms that we can see with the proper lighting. 


This millipede fluoresces: It glows under a UV light!


If your family has a blacklight or another type of ultraviolet light, you can go outside and see what living things you have around you that glow; you might be surprised!


But luminescence can be seen in things that aren't alive as well.  Check out this video on triboluminescence!

When the tape is pulled, or the rocks are rubbed together, the energy from the movement is passed on to (“excites”) electrons inside the atoms.  When that motion stops, the electrons release the energy.  What form is that energy being released in?  That's right, the light!


If you have rough quartz or duct tape at home, you can try this out at home with your parents' permission!  From experience, this does work best when it is very dark, and when you've given your eyes plenty of time to adjust.  You'll also notice that although rubbing the quartz together smells smoky, you don't get any extra heat!  So don't worry, you won't start a fire with this light. 


Bonus fact: Some Native American tribes have made ceremonial rattles using small pieces of quartz that triboluminesce and light up as the rattle is shaken.


On a different note, let's take some time to check out this week's Food For Thought Video!

This video brings up a good point that sometimes, it's hard to speak up when we see things that can be done differently.  But if nobody was ever willing to be the first one, it would be next-to impossible for any major changes to be made at all!  Who can you share the importance of reducing food waste with?  What are you passionate about in your community that you want to protect?  Share it with us! 


Remember that tomorrow night, we will be doing our Facebook Find-Out Friday at 8:00PM CST, a different time than our previous three weeks.  We will be exploring the Ozarks at night, and we welcome all questions you might have!  Please share any questions, comments, or projects you've been working on with us on our Facebook page or at Socialmedia@onsc.us

If you enjoyed watching today's lessons and would like to purchase one of our ONSC Virtual Merchandise Packages, which includes an ONSC Program T-shirt and field journal, click to go to our Online Store


During this time, we only have limited amount of merchandise available for purchase. 


Merchandise orders will ship First Class USPS every two weeks on the following dates:

April 16, April 30, May 14 & May 28


The Ozark Natural Science Center is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) residential field science education center located in Northwest Arkansas.

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1905 Madison 1305
Huntsville, AR  72740