These long summer days call for kiddie pools and ice cream, but they also call out for science! Solar science, to be exact. The following easy experiments will help kids look at the sun in a whole new light. Scroll down to get going.

photo: Suzie’s Farm via flickr

1. S’mores Solar Oven

Harness the power of the sun to make your favorite campfire treat! With just a few common household items you can create an eco-friendly oven just for melting marshmallows and chocolate, plus you can teach kids about the power of the sun. Click here to learn how.

photo: Amber Guetebier

2. Solar Viewing Camera

With the August 21 eclipse coming soon, a DIY pinhole camera is the perfect viewing tool. You can also use it to teach the kiddos about the basics of how a camera lens works. For an easy step-by-step that takes less than 30 minutes to create, click here.

photo: Shelley Massey 

3. Melting Rates

Different colors have different heat absorbing capacities. Black has the greatest heat absorbing capacity, which results in ice melting quicker than on white, which reflects the most light. Learn how to observe and report on which colors affect ice’s melting rates here, on Green Planet Solar Energy. Get more sidewalk science ideas here.

photo: otherwiseeducationg.com

4. DIY Sundial

Unravel the mysteries of time. Or at least figure out the basics by setting up a sundial outside. Take time each hour to check the sun’s positioning and make note of it so your sidekick can see the bigger picture. Try variations like this one with paper and clay or use rocks and shadow to make a human sundial!

photo: Planet Science

5. Homemade Raisins

Grapes are made up of lots of water. The heat from the sun causes the water to evaporate from the grapes, and it also caramelizes the sugar in a grape, making it sweeter. Get your recipe here on Planet Science.

photo: g.wu. via flickr 

6. Sweet Tea

Believe it or not, making a batch of sun tea is an excellent lesson in the power of sunshine. It’s a lesson in heat—seeing how long it takes the water to heat enough to really diffuse the tea bags or fresh herbs—and it teaches kids about currents as the water heats up, something you can view as the tea begins to diffuse into the clear water. Don’t shake or stir, just let nature take its course.

photo: swirlingthoughts via flickr

7. Shadow Drawing

Set up toys on paper and let the kids draw once the shadows hit. Try drawing at different times of day and experiment with the angle of the sun and the shadows it creates as you track its journey across the sky. You can draw right on the sidewalk with chalk, too. Pick toys with distinctive outlines.

What are your ideas for solar-themed science? Share them with us in a comment below! 

—Amber Guetebier

featured photo: qimono via pixabay