Solar energy for kids! Why is that important?
The Sun is a powerful source of radiant energy, and solar energy is free. It's an inexhaustible renewable energy source.
Do kids really need to know that? My answer is "YES". Solar energy for kids should be a fun part of education.
Solar power is part of a solution to many environmental concerns about emissions that are created when making electricity from burning stuff to make steam.
Harnessing solar energy is a relatively new technology within the renewable energy concept toolbox. It has the potential to fix many of the major environmental and energy challenges which are faced by the world.
Solar power can become a viable alternative to generating electricity from burning fossil fuels like gas and coal, which directly affect the environment by contributing green house gas (GHG) pollution into air, water, and land.
The GHG created during burning fossil fuels can lead to damaged forest areas, acid rain and affected agricultural production.
We could say we use solar energy for our kids. Using solar energy can lead us to a cleaner future with purer air and water because solar power is a pollution-free electricity generator.
Why Should The Young Generation Know About Solar Energy?
The scope of solar energy is increasing day by day. The governments of many countries are looking for various ways to harness the power of solar energy.
Therefore, it is becoming more important for us to teach our kids about solar energy.
Information about the creation and use of solar energy is very important for kids to know. It is by making information available about solar energy for kids that they become aware about other renewable energy options. The information about solar energy options would help our kids as the future consumers to make informed energy choices in the future.
Using renewable energy sources could, in turn, conserve the Earth’s environment.
The spread of energy options available in developed countries reflects that country’s economy and its energy security.
More emphasis should be given to educating the youngest generation about renewable energy options. Resources like solar energy and wind energy need to be known so the appropriate energy choices are appreciated and available to future generations.
The younger entrepreneurs might uncover or invent new technologies to make the renewable energy resources even more efficient.
Kids understanding of solar energy can also be improved by exploring many ‘do it yourself’ solar energy projects like making solar boats, solar robots, solar cars, etc. These are discussed later below. Learning about solar energy and the science of electricity technology can be easier with the assistance of solar toys.
Introduce Solar Energy Into A Child’s Early Experience
It is never too early to make your kids aware of solar energy. Solar energy for kids can be introduced when they are in kindergarten.
With just a few simple activities your child's young mind can easily grasp the concepts of solar energy. Solar energy information for students could be trickled out in all levels of schools and colleges for creating power awareness.
Simple Projects To Introduce Solar Energy For Kids
Kids love to participate in fun activities and these should be designed for them to progressively learn how the sun rays can make electricity. A series of sessions of solar energy training in the school curriculum would provide the basic awareness of power generation in the young generation.
A simple solar oven that looks like the image below can be used to bake something simple like a potato.
To build this oven, you need a pizza box, a sheet of plastic wrap, some aluminium foil, a roll of tape and a pencil.
Kids would love this simple experiment as they would get to have a treat after building and using the oven to bake potatoes.
You can build a solar-powered Lego Car for your mechanically inspired kid to introduce them to a basic toy solar powered electric vehicle.
You don't need much to build the toy car shown in the image below. The parts list consists of wheels, axles and gears bits which are available from Lego; a small portable solar panel of 9V; a small 6V motor and some extra strong contact glue. All these items are available from a hardware store or electrical hobby shop.
You could easily make this novel toy; a long-lasting inspiration for your kid that won't need batteries. This project could be a good motivation for adults and kids to work together. You could undertake this project to teach your kids the basics of using solar energy. For kids this type of instruction is practical and a great inspiration for a future direction.
You might use simple solar energy projects like these for teaching or explaining to kids the science of solar energy. We will get to discuss more about the stages of teaching solar further in this article.
Installing Solar Panels At Home
When your family are planning to install solar energy panels at home, you will find the kids will inevitably become curious and become interested to know everything about it.
Solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Photovoltaics is the science of collecting and converting sunlight into electricity by the use of semiconducting materials which attribute the photovoltaic effect. That might be too much for a kindergarten kid to learn but don't underestimate what they will know if you let them learn from observation and practical experimentation.
Expand Their Imagination
The concept of solar energy for kids can be explained by showing them examples of the many working solar panels we come across in our day to day life. For example, there are solar calculators and portable solar panels which use the sunlight for charging mobile phones.
Make learning about solar energy interesting with fun facts. Solar can be explained to the kids with some interesting examples. I have tried to put some into this article to help.
Solar powered cars are being developed by university students and driven thousands of miles to test the concept on the available daylight, which basically means they run using the sun’s energy.
They use solar panels that collect the sunlight and convert it into electricity to charge a bank of batteries. The batteries provide electric energy to electric motors that propel the car. Keep in mind while designing a solar car that the vehicle needs to have enough solar panels to power the batteries but the car must remain strong and very light weight.
All the solar cars which have been developed up until now have been used in solar car races; the most popular one being World Solar Car Challenge which is conducted in Australia.
What about having a solar powered road? Why not have the road's solar power be used to drive the electric car or vehicle. You can watch a fun video below about a solar powered road, but be aware, there is a lot of the word "Freakin" used for this solar powered roadway.
Another interesting example of innovative use of solar energy to kids is the solar-powered boat. How neat is that?
In Sydney Harbour Australia there is a passenger ferry which is called the Solar Sailor. This vessel can be operated on sun, wind, battery power or diesel fuel. A special solar wing technology is used by this boat to collect the sunlight for electricity and for wind power.
There are large batteries that store all the electricity generated by solar panels. This electricity which is captured powers the electric motors.
There are even solar energy powered airplanes in operation.
Solar Impulse 2 uses the latest solar technology and equipment. More than 17,000 solar cells have been used in this plane to collect the solar energy. This first solar-powered plane covered its first journey across the Pacific with only solar energy (no use of fossil fuel) in 2016.
Solar Energy Facts And Information
5 Stages For Explanation To Kids About Solar Energy
Kids can see before they can walk and explore. As a kid starts to grow and understand what she can see of the environment around her, its the light that grabs her attention. And in nature that comes from the Sun. Bright sunlight is warm and everything it shines on around her takes on a golden hue.
Most parents know that some amount of morning sunlight exposure is good for their kids. It satisfies the vitamin D requirement that we humans need. Children know what the sun looks like, it’s that big round yellow ball of fire glistening in the sky.
The idea of solar energy for kids should involve fun more than information. However, let’s start with some solar energy fun facts for kids like:
Kids of today should learn about sources of energy that are renewable and non-renewable and use them as energy sources for kids projects. They might observe the effect these energy sources have on their environment and learn about natural eco-systems from observation. Maybe at an early age they may develop the desire to conserve nature as grow up. Let's explore solar energy for kids.
Stage 1 - Solar Energy For Primary School Kids
At what age do children start learning about solar energy? Well, if you start when kids are young they naturally want to learn. At kindergarten age they soak up everything; each piece of information they get. Kids at kindergarten age love exploring their environment and they ask questions about everything. They ask the ‘what, why, how, when’ questions.
See And Feel The Light
Show them solar power using interactive activities. Maybe start by asking your kids questions, like; “What work do you think the Sun does?” Ask them to stand in the shade and stretch their hands out into the sun to show them how the rays of the Sun warms their palms. They can say how it feels with the Sun’s heat on their hand.
They can see the effects of light within a darkened room using a ply-board with a drilled hole. See the light shine through by using dust or water spray. Kids learn through play activities. We can tell them how hot the rays of the Sun are but you can also safely show them how light energy can burn material. Using a magnifying glass, they can watch as you burn things like wood or paper using the focused light. They can see smoke and light and burning as it comes in contact with the surface of material.
These activities on solar energy for kids at kindergarten age need to be done outside on a sunny day. When they are asked to feel the light and warmth of the Sun, ask them to look away from the sun.
Here are some simple solar energy for kids projects that you might like to try to show dark colours absorb more sunlight than lighter ones.
Blowing Up Balloons Using Solar Power
You can use two bottles for this activity, one bottle needs to be painted white and the other black. The kids will have some fun. Place a balloon over the mouth of each bottle and then put the both bottles outside in the sun and have your kids observe what happens.
After a while the balloon on the black bottle will start to inflate and pop up, but the balloon on the white bottle stays deflated. Ask the kids to touch both the balloons and say what they feel. They would notice that the balloon on the black bottle is warm, but the one on the white bottle is still cool.
Explain that it’s because the black bottle is absorbing solar energy and the air inside it gets warm causing it to expand. The white bottle reflects sunlight and its energy away. When the black bottle starts to absorb energy it causing the air in the bottle to expand into the balloon to fill it with air and blow up.
Melting Coloured Ice Blocks
A fun activity that kids can be shown teaches them about colours and heat reflection. They will learn that dark colours absorb more sunlight than lighter colours. Make a tray of ice blocks, some with black current colouring added, and ask your kids to place a few of the coloured ice blocks and plain ice blocks outside directly under sunlight.
They will observe that the dark-coloured ice blocks will melt before the plain ice blocks. Explain to the kids that darker colours absorb more sunlight than the lighter colours. Explain to children that lighter colours reflect more sunlight than darker colours do.
Stage 2 - Solar Energy at Elementary And Middle School
Kids who are twelve years old have moved from primary to middle school. Does their curriculum include detailed solar energy information for students? This might include physical characteristics of the Sun and the strategic role it plays in the sustainability of the Earth. Kids of this age can also indulge in activities that involve knowing what solar energy is used for. Maybe they could be involved in solar power experiments.
Here are some examples of what these experiments could include:
Make A Solar Cooker
When making solar cookers and ovens it is a good time to outline the science behind them, and then move on to the fun of cooking or heating basic food items. Your kids can learn about solar energy in a fun way, and they have lots of fun sampling their freshly cooked tasty treats.
Make Garden Solar Lights
Kids can make their own garden solar lights using Mason Jars. The material required is easily available from hardware stores. It also is available in the form of solar light kits that demonstrate solar energy for kids. The teenager needs only read instructions and assemble it. They probably would prefer a you-tube instruction. To speed up the process read the instructions while they assemble it.
Make Solar Powered Toy
Using small solar panels from science kits, your teenager can make a solar powered toy car. Assembling that toy will be fun and give them an idea of how solar energy works or might be used in our daily lives.
Stage 3 - Solar Energy at High School Level
Most high school students can understand the basics of solar power and know the science behind making a solar panel system. They can understand what a photovoltaic panel is and can build a small solar array using small PV panels.
The students know a lot of solar energy facts and information and much of it can be used practically by them in science experiments. They understand the photovoltaic environmental impacts, photovoltaic technologies and their implications. There are a lot of interesting projects that can be undertaken by students at high school level. Sometimes it is safer to do experiments with the help of their teachers.
The sort of practical experiments that might be tried include:
Fig 1.3 Solar Greenhouse Made With Plastic Bottles
Fig 1.4 Solar Powered City – Design Project By Kids
Stage 4 - Solar Energy Working At College
College Students can help teach kids at primary and high school about working in the solar power industry. College students can enrol themselves for an internship with companies in the solar power industry while they complete their college education. They will get to see up close the working of the solar power system and come to fully appreciate the benefits and offsets required of using renewable energy for the environment.
Solar energy in the U.S. is quickly becoming a household topic and the solar industry is growing at a fast pace. Some College Schools and University campuses have geared up to engage in and research this renewable energy source. Solar energy is an affordable source of energy, it also works as a learning tool for students. Many modern educational institutions seek to engage their students in learning projects by turning the campus itself into a laboratory.
Solar projects can take time and some need good teamwork among the participants to give definite results. These practical studies enable the students to acquire a certain amount of technical knowledge while they learn their craft.
One example of such a project is the one being undertaken by a group of schools in the Midwest in association with The Second Nature Initiative.
The Second Nature initiative functions as a technical advisor to the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). MERA is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative.
That Initiative’s aim is to incorporate more solar energy training into Higher Education and provide enhanced solar technical training to students. Programs like these help universities and their students develop renewable energy initiatives, and the benefits of solar power, to encourage us to make renewables a part of life.
Stage 5 - Solar School
A Solar Schools idea is new in the field of education on solar energy information for students. The solar schools idea is intended empower kids to learn about and choose renewable sources of energy. With energy education students can be taught how to read energy monitoring tools and understand energy conservation concepts. The school partners with solar companies to bring renewable energy education into under-served communities through highly-visible solar installation systems.
The Solar School concept comprises three parts:
The mission is to inspire local communities of that school area to learn more about the future of renewable energy, learn how to conserve energy, to produce renewable energy and respectfully teach the community about renewable energy resources we have.
Schools might build their own solar powered weather station and display the weather and energy data on LED boards.
Little Changes Go A Long Way
The sun’s energy has been used by us humans for many years but the technology of photovoltaic cells is fairly new.
Kids will be adopting the technology of renewables more quickly than earlier generations.
Although everyone knows solar power is a clean form of energy, it's a new thing. New technology takes time to adopt, and many are happy to wait while using existing forms of energy.
In ten years the solar panel prices have continued to get cheaper so the opinion goes in favour of more homes adopting solar power.
Educating kids about solar energy encourages the coming generations to look at the whole energy picture differently. We could consider using energy efficient appliances, and about recycling at the time of purchase in addition to energy conservation. The more we recycle the more we conserve natural resources for future generations.
We currently use energy inefficiently. Over time we can learn about energy efficiency, about using energy efficient appliances and adopt more energy conserving habits into our daily life. Over time as we move to conserve electrical energy and use renewable energy we can guarantee our example to our kids augers well for a better future.
Vampire energy is the type of energy which is used by our appliances that use electricity 24 hours a day. Even when they are not in use and are turned off, they continue to use the electricity in standby ready mode. Televisions, personal computers, microwaves, washing machines, coffee machines, stereo, DVD players, etc. are some examples of the appliances which use vampire energy.
To avoid these appliances from using vampire energy, simply start unplugging the devices/appliances when they are not in use. Try and use the natural light of the sun during the day. At night use the light of the room you are using and switch off the other lights burning in your home.
Create more awareness about solar energy for kids and encourage them to adopt and practice these and other energy-conserving habits. Even small changes to energy use can help in conserving the natural energy resources for our future generations.
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