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Create a Sunprint

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Chemistry Volunteer Activities
Main Image
Chemistry Volunteer Activities
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Time Needed for Activity

Students will use a special type of paper that is sensitive to the sun to create fun prints and designs on the paper using sunlight.

What You Need

Per student:

  • Piece of Sunprint paper (available for purchase online, such as on Amazon or Boreal Science or in some craft stores)
  • Container of water
  • Any fun object to create a design with: leaves, flowers, toys, string, etc.

Instructions:

Safety Notes

Ensure that students have adult supervision when going outside.

What To Do

  1. Arrange your objects on a piece of Sunprint paper, away from the sun.
  2. Take your paper outside and lay it directly in the sunlight for 2-5 minutes.
  3. Rinse your Sunprint in water, and watch the colours change! Leave it submerged in the container for 1-5 minutes to get a deeper blue colour. 
  4. Lay your Sunprint on paper towel to dry. 

Discovery

What's Happening?

The blue molecules in the paper are sensitive to ultra-violet light from the sun, so the areas of the paper exposed to sunlight will turn white. This happens because there are two molecules in the paper which interact to form a new molecule when they are exposed to certain wavelengths of ultra-violet light. This new molecule is colourless, which is why the parts of the paper exposed to sunlight will fade from blue to white. 

When you submerge the paper in water, the original blue molecule is water-soluble and will be washed away by the water. The new colourless molecule is not water-soluble so it cannot wash away in the water, but the water will cause a chemical reaction to change its colour to the deep blue you see. 

What's Happening?

The blue molecules in the paper are sensitive to ultra-violet light from the sun, so the areas of the paper exposed to sunlight will turn white. This happens because there are two molecules in the paper which interact to form a new molecule when they are exposed to certain wavelengths of ultra-violet light. This new molecule is colourless, which is why the parts of the paper exposed to sunlight will fade from blue to white. 

When you submerge the paper in water, the original blue molecule is water-soluble and will be washed away by the water. The new colourless molecule is not water-soluble so it cannot wash away in the water, but the water will cause a chemical reaction to change its colour to the deep blue you see. 

Resources

Instructions:

Resources

Instructions: