Light - UV - 14-16

This collection explores Ultraviolet light, suitable for ages 14-16.

About ultraviolet light: Ultraviolet (UV) light is an electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength from 400 nm to 100 nm, shorter than that of visible light but longer than X-rays. Though usually invisible, under some conditions children and young adults can see ultraviolet down to wavelengths of about 310 nm, and people with aphakia (missing lens) can also see some UV wavelengths. Near-UV is visible to a number of insects and birds. UV radiation is present in sunlight, and is produced by electric arcs and specialized lights such as mercury-vapor lamps, tanning lamps, and black lights. Although lacking the energy to ionize atoms, long-wavelength ultraviolet radiation can cause chemical reactions, and causes many substances to glow or fluoresce. Consequently, biological effects of UV are greater than simple heating effects, and many practical applications of UV radiation derive from its interactions with organic molecules.

Resources in this collection:

  • Ban the beds: In this activity students work as researchers on a TV show and plan a report about the claim that sunbeds cause skin cancer.
  • Risky radiation: A Catalyst article comparing mobile phones and UV sunbeds. Mobile phones emit radiofrequency (RF) radiation. Tanning beds emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These are both types of non-ionising radiation. In recent years both have received considerable media coverage and they are emotive topics for the general public.
  • Ultraviolet/visible spectroscopy: This resource, from the Royal Society of Chemistry, provides the background theory for ultraviolet/visible (UV/Vis) spectroscopy. It includes an explanation of the absorption laws and how the spectrometer works.