The University of Chicago has found that when children get a hands-on approach to science, they retain knowledge better and are more easily able to access it later on. What better way to learn about the power of the sun than by performing DIY solar experiments as a family? With these three solar projects, you are certain to get your little scientist’s wheels turning.
All you need for this fun experiment is your little scientist, some chalk, and the sun to learn how shadows are created and about the earth’s rotation. Position your child in the center of your driveway, and use the chalk to draw around their feet as well as their shadow. Repeat this process every two hours for the rest of the day to see how our orientation to the sun changes over a 10 hour period. If you need a hand explaining Earth’s orbit, check out this video from Crash Course Kids.
Melted Crayon Art
If your child is more into painting than protons, get their science interests peaked by using the sun to create art. Affix crayons to a canvas with a hot glue gun in whatever pattern your child prefers, but make sure that there is enough room for the crayon to run without spilling off the edge. Once their design is complete, stand the canvas up directly in the sun’s path and wait. Over the next few hours, the crayons should begin to melt, making a fun picture you can hang in their room.
Solar Oven S’mores
The concept of using the sun’s heat to cook your food certainly isn’t a new one. However, it probably is for your kids! All you need is a pizza box, plastic wrap, tape, and aluminum foil to make the perfect temporary solar oven.
Simply cut a large flap in the lid and cover all surfaces in the foil with shiny side facing out. Attach the plastic wrap over the opening in the lid, being sure to seal every edge to help lock in the heat. Next, stack chocolate and marshmallows on pieces of graham cracker, place on a plate, and put them inside your solar oven. You will need to prop up the foil-covered flap and position it where the sun’s rays can reflect onto your s’mores. Hard as it may be, patience is key now. Depending on the temperature and time of day, it may take upwards of an hour, but your delicious sun-cooked s’mores will be well worth it!
If your children really enjoy this experiment, you can easily make a more permanent solar oven using supplies found at your local hardware store. Take the s’mores experiment to the next level by comparing how quickly various types of chocolate melt. Also, solar ovens can be used for so much more than just simple snacks! Earth Easy has some great recipes to get you cooking.
We hope these DIY projects shine a light on your child’s love of learning!