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Colours in the Sun

At your next outdoor adventure, place a variety of different objects into direct sunlight (ex. different coloured fabrics, toys or camping gear). After an hour of sunlight, which objects have absorbed the most heat energy from the sun?

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Plan

  • Which objects do you expect will absorb the most solar energy?
  • What colour do you think will become the hottest?
  • What materials do you think will absorb the most solar energy and become the hottest?

Do

  • Place a variety of objects (that are made from different materials and are different colours) into direct sunlight.
  • After an hour, carefully feel each object to see which objects have become the hottest. You can do this by holding your hand over top of the object (rather than actually touching it) or using an infrared thermometer.

Review

  • Which colours absorbed more solar energy?
  • Which materials absorbed more solar energy?
  • Why is this the case that some materials, and some colours will absorb more solar energy?
  • How could you use this new knowledge to design solar panels?

Materials

  • Objects in various materials and colours - if it is very sunny, do not use things that will get hot enough to burn you (e.g. metal).

Keep it Simple

  • Start simple and test which colours get warmest in the sun. Grab some cotton t-shirts in different colours and lay them out in the sun. Which ones get the warmest?

Take it Further

  • Harness the power of the sun to make a meal using a solar oven!