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  • Long ago, according to the legend of Māui, the Sun was the focus of attention. People wanted more daylight and warmth to get their jobs done. Māui schemed to harness the Sun.

    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.

    Scientists today know the Sun produces huge amounts of energy and some of this energy is radiated to the Earth. They know the Sun’s energy is essential for life on Earth. It provides all living things with food, and it warms the Earth.

    Scientists have learned that the Sun’s energy is transformed to different forms of energy on Earth (such as food energy and heat energy). Scientists are now discovering that they can transform some of this energy themselves – to make electricity. They are learning to harness the Sun!

    Our resources on teaching about solar energy assist teachers to get across a number of important science ideas about solar energy to their students.

    The learning outcomes of this teacher resources are that students will:

    • understand the Sun is needed for life
    • understand light and heat is transmitted from the Sun
    • understand solar energy is weather- and distance-dependent
    • understand solar energy can be reflected or absorbed
    • appreciate that scientists collaborate with their work on solar energy and their knowledge on solar energy has developed over time
    • use some of the language associated with solar energy and have a working knowledge of these terms
    • think critically and ethically when exploring issues related to energy resources.

    Students will meet these learning outcomes by:

    • researching solar energy using Science Learning Hub resources
    • investigating technology using solar power
    • experimenting with the effects of heat on colour
    • constructing a solar oven.

    Download the unit plan (see below).

    Related content

    This unit plan uses these resources:



    In addition see the other resources we have on harnessing the sun in this introductory article.

    Physical World – Heat is a curation of Science Learning Hub resources for primary teachers related to heat in the Physical World strand of the New Zealand Curriculum.

      Published 14 January 2011 Referencing Hub articles
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