Materials List: A Spectral Mystery

Each student needs:

To share with entire class:

  • 1 power supply for gas discharge tubes
  • 1 tube of oxygen gas
  • 1 tube of nitrogen gas
  • 1 tube of air
  • 1 additional tube (your choice)
  • 1 "mystery tube" that could be either oxygen, nitrogen, or duplicate of the additional tube
  • Any additional tubes

Notes on materials:

If resources allow, set up several power supplies as stations around the room.

The (optional) extension activity uses gas discharge tubes. Gas discharge tubes produce an emission spectrum that can be seen when electricity runs through the tube, exciting the atoms in the gas. Although expensive, when handled properly, gas discharge tubes can last for years.

Purchase power supplies and gas discharge tubes from:

Rainbow Symphony Store

Spectrum tube power supply for $199

Nitrogen gas tubes cost $35

Gas tube prices range from $35 to $43