UV Sensitive Putty: Wonder and Curiosity in a Can

Electricity from Mud?! Educational Innovations Blogby Nancy Foote

It’s always fun to put a new item on the curiosity table to see how my students will react.  The newest addition was Arctic Flare UV Sensitive Putty, a gift from our friends at Educational Innovations.

Arctic Flare UV Sensitive Putty comes in a round container and has a black light inside.  What’s inside that container is curiosity, intrigue, science, laughter, and fun—all in one can.  Magic!

UV Sensitive Putty - Educational Innovations BlogI didn’t want my students to be influenced by the wrapping, so I removed the box before I put it on the table.  The first thing my students did surprised me.  I thought the black light was unique and I assumed they would immediately want to see what it did.  They didn’t.

As they began to play with the UV sensitive putty, the conversations and questions started.  They determined that the putty would bounce.  Students designed an investigation to see if the size of the putty ball had any impact on how high it bounced when dropped from a consistent height.  They checked their putty balls by mass and by volume.  It was fun to watch their brains engage with this unusual substance.

UV Sensitive Putty - Educational Innovations BlogStretchiness was also intriguing.  How far could it stretch?  How thin could you make it before it broke?

This required some engineering principles to test.  Students set up their own contraption (a binder clip taped on the wall) to measure if more (by mass) putty would make a longer “spaghetti line” (their words, not mine).

This one little item really made them think.  UV Sensitive Putty and binder clips to create a MakerSpace?  I vote yes.

UV Sensitive Putty - Educational Innovations BlogFinally, they paid attention to the black light.  I should point out that the putty is white when not exposed to UV light; it changes to pink and even purple when the black light is used on it.

How did the distance between the light and the putty impact the area of color change?  (I was curious about this too—would the inverse square law work for UV Sensitive Putty?)  How did the distance between the light and the putty impact the length of time the color remained visible?  What happened to the intensity of the color?  How far into the putty did the light cause a color change?

I was amazed when I saw all the questions the students came up with.  There’s a whole lot of science packed into this one canister!

UV Sensitive Putty - Educational Innovations Blog


UV Sensitive Putty - Educational Innovations Blog


Nancy Foote is a middle school physics teacher in Arizona. She is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, as well as an Arizona master teacher.  Nancy’s YouTube channel can be found at www.YouTube.com/nancyfootehigley.

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