6th - 8th grade
(extensions and differentiation provided to adapt to other grade levels)
Bioluminescence is a form of chemiluminescence, which is the production of visible light by a chemical reaction. Scientists call the process bioluminescence when the reaction occurs in living organisms.
It is estimated that more than 75% of animals that live in the water column in the open ocean are bioluminescent. In this investigation, students explore several organisms with various adaptations that produce light, theorize how these adaptations aid the organisms’ survival, and make sense of the phenomenon “why do many deep-sea organisms glow in the dark?”
Bioluminescence Chemical Reaction. The enzyme, luciferase, helps bond together the substrate, luciferin, and oxygen. The reaction creates the products oxyluciferin and light. The enzyme is recycled after the reaction, and can be used again. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration.
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