Its the cold, hard winter roaring outside right now, but that is little reason to not consider the study of our nearest star. We have a whole set of equipment for classroom or home-study that shows how our sun changes position through the year and how powerful its rays are. Let’s start with a couple of devices that demonstrate the latter.
First up is the Solar Furnace:
The Solar Furnace is a 12″ diameter mirrored parabolic dish. A copper bracket is attached to it where various materials can be attached (paper, wood, small bits of meat). When properly aligned with the sun the intense concentration of heat is enough to burn or even melt certain materials. The power of 12″ diameter of sunlight (113 square inches) being concentrated to a small point demonstrates how powerful sunlight can be and how that energy can be harnessed. A teacher’s guide with 6 experiments is included and is for grades 3+.
Continuing on the same vein is the more down-to-earth Sun Spot Solar Oven.
The Sun Spot Solar Oven does not use a parabolic dish but instead employs mirrored surfaces aimed towards a central area of the oven that can produce temperatures of 350 degrees! This is hot enough to do some actual cooking! In fact some classes have done actual solar cook-offs. Includes a teacher’s manual.
OK, so the sun is powerful, especially when you concentrate its rays. But depending on the time of year your solar furnace and oven may work better than other times. Why is that? Well the sun’s position changes throughout the year. This makes for a great curriculum project that can be aided with the Suntracker
With this fascinating sky dome, students can plot the position of the sun for any given time and date. An effective tool for illustrating Earth/Sun relationships. Learn about how the sun changes height and position as the seasons change. This in turn lets students learn about why the seasons change!
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