Try this artistic science experiment to show your kids how shade protects us from the Sun’s ultraviolet rays.
What You'll Need
- Colorful construction paper
- Clear plastic wrap, or a large piece of plexiglass
- Leaves, flowers, or other flat items
- Small rocks to use as weights
Here's What to Do
1. Send your child outdoors to collect leaves, flowers, and other natural items. Tell them to look for flat objects with interesting shapes.
2. Place colorful construction paper in the sunlight on a driveway, sidewalk or table.
3. Ask your child to create designs on the paper using the natural items they found.
4. Help to cover the items with clear plastic wrap (or plexiglass) and weigh the edges down with rocks, so that the plastic lays flat and won’t blow away.
5. Leave your project in the sun for two or three hours.
6. After a few hours, have your child remove the plastic wrap and decorative plants from the paper to see the designs they created.
The Science Behind the Fun
Some of the Sun’s energy travels to Earth as light waves. Certain light waves, called ultraviolet waves, have enough energy to break the bonds of chemicals, like the dyes in construction paper. This changes the color of the paper.
In this experiment, you’ll see that the construction paper shaded by leaves and flowers didn’t change color. That’s because the ultraviolet light waves were blocked out and couldn’t damage the paper.
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light can damage skin too. That’s why it’s smart to wear UV-blocking sunscreen, or stay in the shade when the sun is strong.
© Quarry Books, 2016/Outdoor Science Lab for Kids
Featured Photos Credit: © Quarry Books