Stanford Solar Center
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sunflower    Effects of the Sun on our Planet
See the Activity in Action Summary of Activity:
Students will experiment with plants, light, heat, and water evaporation. They will experiment with solar cells to design a simple solar cooker, a "solar-powered" method to perform a routine task, or build a parabolic solar collector. They will explore radio signals during daytime and nighttime. Older students will construct an ionosphere monitor to track solar storms and other changes in ionosphere reflectivity, and will perform experiments with magnetism and a magnetometer.

Duration of Activity:
Varies with grade level, but will take multiple class periods.

Student Prerequisites:
Varies according the grade. Details are given in the Study Guides.

Needed materials are detailed in the Study Guides.

Teacher Preparation:
Detailed in the Study Guides.

Study Guide and Work Sheets:

  1. Students will observe how technology (photovoltaic cells) can enhance the solar energy Earth receives.
  2. Students will develop an understanding of the importance of the Earth's magnetosphere.
  3. Students will observe the effects of the Sun's energy on the magnetosphere.
  4. Students will dvelop an understanding of the various solar phenomena (coronal mass ejections (CMEs), flares, radiation) and their effect on the Sun's output of radiant energy.
  5. Students will observe the effects of varous solar phenomena on the Earth.
  6. Students will recognize the difference between true north and magnetic north.
  7. Students will dvelop an understanding of how solar cells convert solar energy to electricity.

Grade Level:
Separate activites are available for grades 2-4, 5-8, and 9-12.

Relationship to National Standards:
Relationship to the National Science Standards is included in the Study Guides.


Assessment information is included in the Study Guide.

A glossary is included in the Study Guide.

A bibliography is included in the Study Guides.

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