Sun Changed Paper

The Sun is a source of energy and the only source of light for Earth and all other planets in our solar system. It’s amazing to think it is almost 150 million kilometres away from us and still has the ability to support life on this planet through the transfer of its’ energy. That energy can also cause permanent changes in everyday objects.

Sun Safety
Before conducting any activities involving the Sun, it is important to remember the following safety advice.
  • Be SunSmart
Image courtesy of Cancer Council WA 
  • Never stare into the Sun
    The 'Seeing is Believing' PALMS activity takes students through a quick activity to show a mild example of the effect of staring into strong light (NOTE: This should only be done under adult supervision).
Vocabulary Words
There following are words  that students might like to add to a word wall about light.
  • Transparent – Materials that allow light to travel through. Examples: glass, clear plastic, windows

  • Translucent – Materials that allow only some light to travel through, but the rays are distorted and the image vague. Examples: frosted glass, empty plastic milk bottles

  • Opaque – Materials that do not allow any light to travel through. Examples: cardboard, brick, wood

  • Fade – The process of becoming less bright, growing fainter or starting to disappear.

Fair Testing
Science tries to explain the causes of change. It relies on a structured approach to observe the change (phenomenon), suggest a possible cause (or causes) for the change and then test each possible cause by itself. This will give us information that can be observed and measured by anybody. It does not rely on unsupported opinion that may vary from person to person.
Science activities in early and middle childhood can be structured using the first letters of the mnemonic COWS MOO SOFTLY
C Change one thing
M Measure one thing
S Everything else Stays the Same
When we run experiments, we always have an unchanged part so we can see and measure any changes. The part left unchanged is called the CONTROL and the part that has had one thing changed (in our activity below it is the exposure, or not, to sunlight) is called the EXPERIMENT. If we obey the rules above our experiment is a “FAIR TEST”. This scientific method gives us the best chance to get good results (data).

Can the Sun Change the Colour of Paper?
The simple activity featured in this video will show students how the Sun can change the colour of highlighter ink or coloured paper. It also demonstrates a model for fair testing as it is explained in the previous section.
The experiment will take several days to conduct and only requires some stationery to set up.
You can also access an instruction sheet for this activity here

Evidence of the Sun Changing Things
Many other things we see in everyday life can be changed by the light energy from the Sun. Below are some examples we could think of and students could be encouraged to think of more.

 Image courtesy of Renewal by Andersen 

More Light Activities
Here are some more PALMS activities about light that could be adapted for use at home.
·       What Colour is White Light?
·       Sunlight Source
·       Light Print Paper*
*This activity does require special paper to be purchased so may be an optional activity. It works well and makes some great, fun artworks! The paper can be ordered online here or other online shops.