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  • 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).

    Rights: Tim Tripp

    Māui harnessing the Sun

    In Māori mythology, Māui, with the help of his brothers, harnessed the sun to slow it down so that the days would be longer and they would all have more time to find food.

    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.
    interactive image map that looks at the electromagnetic spectrum

    The electromagnetic spectrum

    This interactive looks at the electromagnetic spectrum. To use this interactive, move your mouse or finger over any of the labelled boxes and select to obtain more information.

    Select here for a transcript and copyright information.

    Download the Word file below for:

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

    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 seven different groups (see the electromagnetic spectrum).

    Related content

    Prior to doing this activity with your students we recommend that you are familiar with the articles Solar energy and Using solar energy that cover some of the key science ideas and concepts. Also check you can access the interactive The electromagnetic spectrum (as above). Explore what ultraviolet (UV) light is in What is UV?

    Students can further explore the transformation to heat energy in Using heat energy

    See the additional teacher resources Alternative conceptions about energy and this unit plan.

      Published 9 August 2010 Referencing Hub articles
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