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By Hannah Ford on

How to make a glow detector

Learn how to make your own glow detector to hunt for hidden messages around the museum and at home.

It’s hard to imagine the holiday season without light—be it at home on a tree, in your neighbour’s windows, or giving the streets a bit of festive cheer. This year, our Explainers are bringing light into the museum with our all-singing, all-dancing, all-glowing holiday programme!

Our Glow Detectives workshop is a chance for visitors to explore the world of ultraviolet light by making their very own ‘glow detector’, simply by using a torch or smartphone light and a purple filter. Then, they investigate the case of the glow-in-the-dark spaghetti, the mysteries of neon body crayons and much more!

Don’t have a chance to visit the museum over Christmas? You can make your own glow detector at home using an LED torch or smartphone light, tape and a couple of Sharpies. Just put one layer of tape over the light and colour it blue, add another layer and colour it purple, and repeat. Four or six layers will be enough for the expert Glow Detective!

Here’s just some of the ideas for mysteries you can solve…

Mesmerising messages

Create a trail of hidden messages throughout the house with highlighters and coloured paper or Post-It notes—use your glow detector to follow the signs and find the treasure!

Hidden messages on a piece of paper
Yellow and orange highlighter on yellow paper—use your glow detector and the message appears!

Shimmering shirts

Can’t decide what to wear? Use your glow detector to find the shirt that ‘pops’ the most!

Radiating rocks

Take your glow detector outside—can you find any rocks and minerals that glow?

Ambient animals

Lots of animals can glow, including turtles, scorpions and sharks! Imagine if you could glow—what would you use your super glowing powers for?

Click here to find out more about all our light-themed activities taking place at the museum during the Christmas holidays.  

Have you made a glow detector at the museum or at home? Tell us how it went, and share your ideas for more fun activities below. 

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