Academic journal article Science and Children

The Sun's Energy

Academic journal article Science and Children

The Sun's Energy

Article excerpt

Energy is one of the crosscutting concepts that bridges different disciplines in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States 2013). In the activities presented this month, younger students examine how energy is produced by the Sun and reaches the Earth as sunlight, which warms the Earth's surface. Students also explore how materials of different colors absorb or reflect sunlight at different rates. Through simple investigations, students determine that different materials can be used to protect themselves from the Sun's energy. Older students examine how the energy from the Sun is the basis for all of the life on Earth and how it progresses through food chains and food webs. They develop food chains and food webs to show how all begins with plants, which get their energy from the Sun.

This Month's Trade Books

Sun and Shade

By Mary Lindeen

ISBN: 978-1-68404-091-9 Norwood House Press

32 pages

Grades K-2


Through very basic language, this book engages emerging readers in ideas related to the Sun and shade. Using photos, the book also shows how the Sun helps certain processes, as well as things that can create shade.

Pass the Energy, Please!

By Barbara Shaw McKinney

Illustrated by Chad Wallace

ISBN: 978-0-06-445177-2


32 pages

Grades 1-4


This book focuses on food chains and how energy is passed from one animal or plant to the next along the way. The text uses rhyme and incorporates herbivores, carnivores, insects, and plants into the food chain, increasing the steps of the food chain throughout the book. *


NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Grades K-2: Sunny Days


To discuss the ideas of Sun and shade, identify whether black or white objects absorb or reflect the Sun's energy, and use that information to build a structure that reduces the warming effect of sunlight on the area.


Begin by showing students an umbrella and ask them when they would use an umbrella. Although the common answer is "when it is raining," continue to prompt students for other times and, if necessary, show them either a picture of a beach umbrella or the cover of the book to help them generate additional answers. Once students understand that an umbrella is often used at the beach or at home on a patio, ask them to consider why they would use an umbrella at the beach.

Read Sun and Shade to students. After reading it through once, ask students to discuss the following questions. Refer back to the story if necessary.

* How does the Sun help plants, animals, and people stay alive?

* Can you describe a time where you were outside in the Sun and it felt too hot or it was too bright out?

* Looking at the picture of the girl on page 14, why do you think she is sitting under an umbrella? If you were sitting in the shade, what are you doing to the sunlight?

* What are other objects that help create shade that can protect plants, animals, and people?

* Compare the temperature you think you would feel in the Sun and the shade. Which do you think would be warmer? Cooler?


In this activity, students examine how sunlight warms the Earth's surface, explore how colors absorb or reflect light, and determine how that impacts the temperature of an object or place. Begin this exploration by providing students with a sheet of black construction paper and a sheet of white construction paper. Ask them to consider the color of clothing a person would wear in the summer in warm locations and in the winter when it is cooler. Although there are other variables to consider when dressing for different temperatures, such as fiber, texture, and weight associated with clothing types, the goal here is to help students focus on the color of the clothing. …

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