Education For Children and Families
Creatively Engage Children and Nurture a Connection to the Environment
Teachers and families are always seeking new ways to keep children healthy and actively engaged in meaningful educational pursuits.
Below you will find great resources for providing children with creative educational activities and experiences.
A Sunny Educational Activity & Fun Facts
Portions of A Fun Sun Activity and Fun Facts adapted with permission from the author’s books: Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun: 22 Super-Charged Science Projects for Kids, and Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children (with Joseph Bruchac). (Activities for Keepers of the Earth were illustrated by artist Carol Wood, who also works as a Lister for the Town of Woodstock).
The Real Corona
OK, kids – You’re hearing a lot about the coronavirus. Are you ready for something that’s UP and on the bright side?
Let’s learn about the sun’s corona. Although you can’t look directly at the corona because that would damage your eyes, here are a few fun facts and activities about our home star.
A Fun Sun Activity
Stroll to the Sun – It would take 109 Earths, placed edge to edge, to reach across the face of the Sun. And if you had a bag as large as the Sun, you could fit one million Earths inside. For this activity you will need:
- popcorn or peppercorn 1/8th-inch in diameter (representing our Earth)
- yellow ball or balloon 13.25 inches in diameter, or a round piece of cardboard cut to this size and painted yellow (representing our Sun)
- outside area measuring 121 feet long
- measuring tape to mark distance
Find a long, fairly level place outside in or near your yard. Use the measuring tape to mark a line 121 feet long. Have someone walk to the far end of this line while holding the ball, balloon or yellow disc representing the sun. Have someone else stand at the near end of the line holding the peppercorn or kernel of popcorn representing Earth. At a scale of 1 inch = 64,000 miles, this is how large our Earth and Sun would look compared to one another, and this is how far the distance would be between them.
Now everyone – Walk the entire distance between the miniature Earth and Sun, and you will have walked 93 million miles!
FUN FACT #1
At times, when a person is being very active, someone says, “You’re a regular ball of fire.” But no one can hold a candle to the Sun. At its center or core, the Sun’s temperature is 28 million°F. At this great heat the atoms of hydrogen join together to form helium, named after the Greek name for the Sun, Helios. Energy is created every time hydrogen joins to form helium. This is the force that drives the Sun’s energy. Even though 600 million tons of hydrogen change into helium every second, there is still enough hydrogen left for the Sun to last another 5 to 6 billion years!
FUN FACT #2
When we catch a brief glimpse of the Sun, we see the 200-mile-thick layer called the photosphere, which is about 10,000°F. Sunspots are about 2,700°F cooler than the rest of the photosphere, so they appear darker. Some individual sunspots are wider than the diameter of Earth. They can last for anywhere from a few hours to a couple of months, and they can produce violent explosions called solar flares. A large solar flare can last for a few hours, interrupt satellite communications on Earth and generate enough energy to power the entire United States for 100,000 years. Sunspot activity is at a low point in 2020, and won’t peak again until about 2023.
FUN FACT #3
Surrounding the photosphere is another, somewhat hotter layer of the Sun called the chromosphere, which is 1,000 to 2,000 miles thick. Finally, like the skin on an apple, comes the corona, in which the temperature shoots up to more than 1 million°F. Superheated gases from the corona rocket off into space as charged particles called the solar wind. The reddish chromosphere and the corona’s whitish streamers are only visible during a total solar eclipse, a time when the moon passes between the Sun and Earth and the Sun is blocked out wherever the moon’s shadow falls. (The Sun’s energy can damage eyes and cause blindness, so don’t ever look directly at the Sun, even during an eclipse.)
FUN FACT #4
The Sun is more than 93 million miles away, but we can feel its heat and light as if it were close by. Just how far away is the Sun? If there were a road that led from Earth to the Sun, your family could climb into the car and drive there. But the ride is going to take a while. Let’s say that, on the road to the Sun, the driver brought the car up to 70 miles per hour and set it on cruise control for the whole ride, 24/7. At that speed, if no one stopped to eat or to take a bathroom break, and the drivers rotated so that you never had to slow down or stop, you would arrive at the Sun in 152 years. How long is that? If your family had begun such a journey back in 1865—the last year of the U.S. Civil War—you would have finally reached your destination in 2017!
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