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In this activity, students explore the transformation of the Sun’s energy into heat energy through several experiments.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • explain that different objects absorb different amounts of light energy and that this gives them their various colours
  • explain that dark coloured objects absorb more light energy, which transforms into radiated heat energy (infrared rays), and black coloured objects are the best for absorbing light energy and radiating heat energy
  • show that materials that appear light in colour or have a shiny and smooth surface reflect solar energy best
  • show there are ways of trapping the Sun’s heat energy (for example, using dark coloured objects, insulation, creating a greenhouse effect, facing objects to the Sun for maximum exposure, reflecting more light onto a given area).

Download the Word file for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • instructions on what you need and what to do
  • extension activities.

Nature of science

Scientists and technologists use their knowledge of the natural and physical world to make life more comfortable for us, for example, houses can be heated through solar water heaters or houses can be designed to make use of the Sun’s energy for heating.

    Published 9 August 2010 Referencing Hub articles