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5 – Tips for educating your kid about solar energy

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Solar electricity will be powering most homes, offices and schools in the future. There will be a boom in the solar industry and there will be many jobs and research avenues opening up. Children should know the basics of solar energy and understand the concept of this green energy to know how to use it in different projects and ventures when they grow up. Teach your kids about solar power in a fun way with all these interesting experiments.

5 – Tips to educate your kid about solar energy

Racking your mind to find a way to teach your kids about solar energy? One of the best ways to educate your child about the sun’s power is by demonstration. Kids learn faster through hands-on creative projects which they can experience. You can do these solar experiments and explain different solar theories in a fun and interesting way.

1.   Understand passive solar electricity with a solar oven

First, teach your elementary student/kid about how heat is produced in the sun, and how it reaches us. Your kid’s first question would be why the sun is so hot. The sun is so hot because in sun’s core the high temperature and pressure causes the hydrogen atoms to fuse to Helium and this reaction releases a huge amount of energy and using this energy the rays of the sun reach us.

To demonstrate solar energy, you can make an oven which can explain how construction and engineering can affect internal temperature.

What you need

You will need a shoe box or unused pizza box, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, glue, black construction paper and scissors. You can design a flap at the top of the box which can be lifted up.  With some glue, attach the aluminum foil to the inside of the flap and the sides of the box. Glue the construction paper on the inside of the box. Place plastic wrap on the top.

Cook with the solar oven

Your kid will love this part. Cook his graham crackers with marshmallows and chocolate pieces inside the plastic wrap and keep it in the sun. When the chocolate melts, it’s ready to eat. This cute little solar oven will show how the sunlight is converted into heat energy which was used to cook the chocolate by the heated air inside the wrap.

2.   Water balloon experiment

One of the ways to educate your child about solar energy is through balloons. Balloons, especially water balloons are irresistible for children, including your child for sure. All you need are two soda bottles (plastic and empty), black and white paint and two balloons.

Paint one bottle and one balloon black and the other balloon and bottle white. Fill both the bottles with water. Get your preschooler to help you attach the balloons to the bottles, black balloon to the black bottle and white to the white balloon. Then watch as the water heats up inside the black bottle and the balloon begins to fill up. The white bottle remains the same.

The lesson here is how sun’s light is transformed into heat, and also how the visible light is absorbed by the black colored bottle and converts that into usable heat energy. You can then point how why solar panels are colored black, and why he/she feels hotter while wearing hot on a hot day.

3.   How to help them understand solar cells

The next step in your solar education plan would be to teach your preschooler about solar cells. Solar cells’ technology is different than passive solar heating as the sun’s light in this case is converted to electrical energy, not just heat.

In solar cells, the light strikes the semi-conductors and knocks the electrons loose. The loose electrons are channeled into wires with an electromagnetic field. Your kid will understand it better by playing with a solar powered toy, such as a solar powered car. In fact, he and his friends can have a great time assembling (with a lot of help from you!) and racing with their solar cars. Besides, you’d be instilling in them at an early age to use solar powered cars when they grow up.

4.   Solar lamp to explain solar panels

To teach about solar energy, you have to also explain about solar panels. Your elementary level kid would be thrilled to help in making a solar light. He/she has probably seen street lights being lit up with solar panels, so it would be quite exciting for them to have a solar lamp.

You will need a garden light (solar), glass jar and glue. Open the top part of the garden solar light, remove the panel and bulb and glue this to the lid of the jar. Once the glue is dry, let the lamp get charged in the sun. Then watch as your kid is fascinated when the jar is transformed into a glowing garden light at night.

This is a wonderful way to teach solar energy to the child. You can explain how solar heat is transformed to electricity. Additionally, enlighten your kid about sustainable energy and how using this kind of energy will reduce the use of pollution creating fuels as well as pollution.

5.   Sunny animal shadows

Sunny animal shadowsThe animal shadows experiment will definitely be loved by your child. To make it more fun, ask your friends to get some of their friends too. Let the children draw a favorite animal/bird on some heavy stock paper. Then cut out the drawings and place them on the black construction paper out in the sun and weight them down with some rocks, and leave the cut outs for about three days.

The sun’s rays will make the paper fade, and leave some beautiful shadows. This experiment will be an opportunity for you to explain to your kids about the UV rays. The animals cut outs protected the paper underneath them. The kids will learn the importance of sunscreens which protects from UV rays.

Your kid will have great time learning about solar energy with so many fun projects. Once they have the concept of this new form of energy, they might turn into solar entrepreneurs when they grow up.

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