The Ugly Duckling

Let There Be Light!

Electroluminescence (ih·lek·troh·lo·muh·nes·ans) - the emission of light by phosphor when activated by an electric charge. Also, a word that’s a little tough to pronounce, especially for the 5-8 year old kiddos that we hung out with at the Fayetteville Public Library last week for a fun, engaging and educational science experiment!

Equipped with batteries, Christmas lights and multicolored electrical tape, we conducted a mini science lesson alongside a story-time session of The Ugly Duckling and The Tortoise and the Hare. Usually science experiments and Aesop’s fables don’t quite walk hand in hand, but that’s not the case with Lightwire Theater’s production of the two classic tales! Their twist on the stories includes puppetry, and their twist on puppetry is…you guessed it, electroluminescence!

We showed this video from Lightwire Theater's production of The Ugly Duckling and The Tortoise and the Hare to the little scientists as a preview of what we’d be creating and they were immediately interested. “Oohs” and “ahhs” floated about the room, eyes lit up and the excitement commenced.   

Ready to create their own light, the kids practically ran over to the activity station and were patiently awaiting instruction.

What you'll need:

  • Christmas lights, cut down to one lightbulb per scientist and stripped so that the copper wire (i.e. the conductor) is exposed. 
  • One double A battery per person.
  • Two strips of electical tape (i.e. the insulator), color of your choosing.    

Now for the fun part...

Simply connect the exposed copper wire to each end of the battery, secure with electrical tape, and ta-dah. Electroluminescence!

As the children watched their lightbulbs illuminate, the smiles and excited chittering absolutely could not be contained.

Try this easy yet crowd-pleasing experiment at home with your kids, and don’t forget to visit Walton Arts Center on March 1 for The Ugly Duckling and The Tortoise and the Hare presented by Lightwire Theater! You won’t want to miss these full-bodied electroluminescent puppets regaling the stories that teach us some of life’s most difficult but important lessons, that “slow and steady wins the race” and “beauty is only skin deep.”