A common classroom activity I remember is to scan different excited gases (safely inside glass tubes, the way a neon light works) using a spectrometer. Public Lab's [foldable spectrometry kit](/wiki/foldable-spec) makes this even more interactive -- you can make your own paper spectrometer with a DVD as a diffraction grating, and every student can make their own scans.
(Lead image by Wikipedia contributor Alchemist-hp www.pse-mendelejew.de - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 de, Link)
1. Construct a spectrometer
First, follow these instructions to make a spectrometer: https://publiclab.org/notes/abdul/10-19-2016/foldable-paper-spectrometer-instructions
2. Calibrate it
(optional but really helpful!) Follow these steps to calibrate on https://spectralworkbench.org :
3. Point it at a gas light source in a dark room
Use the button below to post your results, with a photo and a link to your spectrum at SpectralWorkbench.org!
What kind of gas are you scanning? What are the spectral excitation lines you're looking for?
See these resources for next steps:
- Comparative and qualitative flame spectroscopy
- Importing spectra from NIST and WebMineral.com to Spectral Workbench
- Classroom flame spectroscopy
Are you a teacher?
If you're teaching a class using these resources, and have improvements or changes to suggest, please leave a comment below! You're welcome to use this activity or to modify and improve on it. We'd love your input!
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