Weekly Education Challenge and Show & Tell
Week Seven Challenge: Safe Sun Viewer
Description: Have you ever squinted on a bright sunny day? Or been reminded by your grown-ups not to look at the sun? While there are lots of interesting things to observe about the sun, it is very dangerous to look at directly. The sun is an enormous ball of gas, constantly releasing huge amounts of energy. Even though all life on earth depends on the sun’s heat and light, looking directly at this incredibly powerful source of energy with something as fragile as our eyes can result in permanent damage. Luckily, scientists have developed tools to observe the sun indirectly, without putting our eyes in danger! In this activity, you will build your very own sun viewer, and use it to observe the sun safely.
- A cardboard box
- A pushpin, needle, or nail
- White paper
- Using your scissors, cut out two holes at one of end of your box, on the same side, but at opposite edges. One hole should be about 1in x 1in, and the other should be large enough for you to put your eye up to it and see through to the other side of the box
- Tape the piece of tinfoil over the smaller hole, as tightly as you can. Look through the larger hole to make sure no light is getting through and that your edges are all taped
- Using your pushpin, poke a small hole in the tinfoil, being very careful not to tear it
- At the end of your box opposite the two holes, tape down your white paper on the inside of the box
- Practice using your sun viewer inside first, holding it so your back is facing the light source, looking through the larger hole, with the tinfoil covered hole above and facing the light source
- Once you feel comfortable using your sun viewer, take it outside and observe away, always making sure that your back is to the sun!
- What did you observe about the sun? Try looking at different times of day or multiple days in a row and see if you notice any changes.
- Don’t believe me that the sun can permanently damage your eyes? Watch this video of a grape exposed directly to the sun’s energy through a telescope and see what happens!
- Did you notice any dark spots on the image of the sun? These are called sunspots and appear dark because they are slightly cooler than the rest of the sun’s surface. Don’t get me wrong, they are still hot – nearly 7,000 ⁰F, but the rest of the sun is even hotter, closer to 10,000 ⁰F! These small, slightly cooler areas are surrounded by hotter material, so they look dark, even though they are still very bright. Since the sun is made of gas, different parts of the sun move at different rates as it rotates. Similarly to how our bedsheets get bunched up when we roll around at night, all of this uneven movement twists the sun’s magnetic field. The spots with bunches of the magnetic field have so much power that they block the heat from rising to the surface, so we observe spots that are slightly cooler than the rest of the sun’s surface, or sunspots!
- To learn more about the sun, check out this National Geographic article here
Join us for the show and tell portion of the weekly challenge Friday at 3:00 pm!
You can connect to the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone:
You can also dial in using your phone: +1 (786) 535-3211
Access Code: 727-229-309
3:00 - 4:00 pm
Become a Junior Night Ranger!
The National Park Service has developed a Junior Ranger Night Explorer program, encouraging young park visitors to explore the dark side of their world. Children can learn how to find the North Star, write their own creative mythology about the constellations, track the phases of the moon, learn about stars and galaxies, and use all their senses to explore the night environment.
To receive your Junior Ranger Night Explorer patch, send photos of your completed book to email@example.com. The first 15 children to complete the book will receive patches.