July 9, 2011

Summer Solar Power Activities

It’s officially summer! It's even summer here in Oregon, the land where spring comes in so late and stays so late, we’ve started changing our calendars to show the month of Junuary.

What better time to try out some solar powered activities? These activities are easy enough to do with children, and they’re fun and interesting for grownups too. All of these activities can be done with household materials, or require only a minimal purchase.

-make a sundial
-make a thermometer
-make a solar powered cooker
-make solar S’mores!
-make sun tea (be sure to clean your jar thoroughly, don’t leave the jar outside for more than 3-4 hours, and don’t make more tea than you plan to use in a day,– otherwise bacteria can flourish.)
-dry your laundry on a clothesline
-Shade or Sun? An easy experiment for young children. Also a good way to talk with children about why tree cover is so important.
-water purification and distilling water from plants This is a fun activity you can also do at the beach.
-watching ice cubes melt This one can be a lot more interesting than it sounds. You use different colors of cardstock or paper as solar heat collectors. Which colors collect the most heat and melt the ice fastest? What if you change the color of the ice cube? This is a good activity for talking about how paint color and building material color affects the indoor temperature of the building. Or compare it with how your child feels dressed in light colors vs. dark colors on a sunny day.

If you decide to try an activity, will you tell me how it went? What surprised you? What did your kids learn? What are some solar-powered activities you already do?


  1. Even in NY state this weekend it is the perfect weather for trying solar powered activities. I'd like to try out our solar dehydrator for the first time.

  2. We're still working on those dilithium crystals.

  3. Some cool ideas you got here. Thanks for the recent commend on my garden blog.