In this activity, students are introduced to the concept of harnessing the Sun’s energy for our use on Earth. They will appreciate that the early Māori were also thinking about the Sun in relation to the Earth as depicted in the legend Māui and the Sun. The students will explore nuclear fusion (the nuclear reaction that releases energy in the Sun) and the electromagnetic spectrum (the energy waves that reach the Earth).

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

  • explain why the Sun is essential for life on Earth
  • explain nuclear fusion and the release of energy from the Sun
  • explain that the electromagnetic spectrum represents energy waves radiated from the Sun to the Earth.

Download the Word file for:

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

Prior to doing this activity with your students we recommend that you are familiar with the articles Solar energy, Using solar energy and are able to access the interactive The electromagnetic spectrum.

Nature of science

When scientists make discoveries, they classify or categorise similar items so that they can keep track of everything and make references to various categories. The electromagnetic waves were categorised according to wavelength and frequency into 7 different groups (see the electromagnetic spectrum).


    Published 9 August 2010