Earth Day Solar Cookies Experiment
This is a Guest Blog Post Written by Aurora Lipper, Owner of Supercharged Science
Can you use the power of the sun without using fancy and expensive solar cells?
You bet! We’re going to focus the incoming light down into a heat-absorbing box that will actually cook your food for you.
What is Solar Energy?
Life on Earth wouldn’t be possible without the energy from the sun. The sun’s energy travels through the vacuum of space to reach the Earth’s surface, and most of that light is visible light and infrared, with a small part being ultraviolet.
When you stand in sunlight, your arms can feel the warmth of the light, even with your eyes closed. That’s the infrared part of sunlight. The ultraviolet portion has more energy than the infrared and is also responsible for giving you a sunburn.
We’re going to make use of all the sunlight in order to make our cookies today!
- Two large sheets of poster board (black is best)
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic wrap
- Black construction paper
- Cardboard box
- Pizza box (clean!)
- Tape & scissors
- Reusable plastic baggies
- Cookie dough (your favorite)
1. Measure an inch from each of three sides of the pizza box. Use the scissors/razor to cut a door out of the pizza box. Bend the door open if necessary. Cover the inside of the door with aluminum foil.
2. The heat needs to get trapped inside the box. Take your plastic wrap and tape it over the opening between the door and the inside of the pizza box. It doesn’t matter which side you tape it on.
3. To help the heat stay inside the box, line the inside with aluminum foil. You can also add an insulation layer with some cotton balls, shredded paper, or fine shavings. On top, place your foil. On top of this, put down the black construction paper. Use tape to secure it all in place.
4. Check to make sure the box still closes. Take your cookie dough and place it in balls onto the surface of the paper.
5. Measure the temperature inside the cookie with a thermometer. Do not eat the cookies until they register 165 on an instant-read thermometer. (There’s a real food safety concern here, as the cookie dough stays in the “danger thermal zone” for more than four hours. If you’re concerned, either omit the eggs in the recipe or use pasteurized eggs.)
6. Enjoy your cookies! Be sure to share!
The solar cookie oven uses the light from the sun, specifically the UV and IR parts of the spectrum, to bake the dough into some delicious treats. The UV rays are energetic and are responsible for damaging our skin if we don’t shield it. The atmosphere of our earth does a lot to dissipate this energy so we aren’t subject to some of the more harmful parts of the energy that the sun emits. In fact, the sun can eject enormous, energetic bursts of radiation far into space in the form of solar flares. We experience these flares as scrambles in our satellite signals, as well as see their effects visually in the atmosphere as aurorae.
The solar cookie oven operates on the basic principle that the light can be concentrated to be directly useful for our energy needs. Instead of converting the energy into electricity to power an oven, for example, the sun’s rays are now directly heating the surfaces that the cookies rest on. A few ingredients are necessary for this oven to operate properly, which is what this experiment explores. Sunlight at the Earth’s surface is mostly in the visible and near-infrared (IR) part of the spectrum, with a small part in the near-ultraviolet (UV). The UV light has more energy than the IR, although it’s the IR that you feel as heat.
Your solar cooker does a few different things. First, it concentrates the sunlight into a smaller space using aluminum foil. This makes the energy from the sun more potent. You’re also converting light into heat by using the black construction paper. If you’ve ever gotten into car with dark seats, you know that those seats can get HOT on summer days! The black color absorbs most of the sunlight and transforms it into heat (which boosts the efficiency of your solar oven). By strapping on a plastic sheet over the top of the pizza-box cooker, you’re preventing the heat from escaping and cooling the oven off. Keeping the cover clear allows sunlight to enter and the heat to stay in. (Remember the black stuff converted your light into heat?) If you live in an area that’s cold or windy, you’ll find this part essential to cooking with your oven!
Enjoy your Earth Day Solar Cookies!
Click here for 5 more experiments like this!
A Scientific Cleanup – Earth Day is a comprehensive lesson plan for a group cleanup trip to a local beach, lake or stream. Learners keep track of the types and amounts of trash picked up and analyze this information. As a group, learners discuss the marine debris problem in their community and consider ways to prevent pollution. This lesson helps learners understand the effects of natural events and human influences on ecosystems. It also teaches learners several science process skills, including forming questions and answering questions by experimenting, carrying out research to validate or challenge ideas, and designing experimental tests.
For the very comprehensive lesson plan, click here. Thank you HowtoSmile.org for this great information!
Plan It Green, the Big Switch is an online game that allows players to design and create their own energy-efficient city of the future. Kids can:
- Build new energy technologies and advance energy research;
- Rack up points based on eco-friendliness, energy production, citizen happiness, and more!
- Compete with other “mayors” for the highest city rating;
- Tackle challenging quests and earn rewards for your outstanding achievements;
- Advance through game levels by exploring and building a diverse energy portfolio;
- Check out new game play elements as fresh features are added on a regular basis.
Watch the Plan It Green trailer to learn more.
7 Tips for Homeschooling Different Learning Styles
Don’t forget to sign up for SDAccelerate’s seven day free trial here!
There are seven primary styles of learning and, while no one is really limited to one, most people have preferences. Identifying which learning style your child prefers can be simple, but implementing methods to suit each style can be a bit more difficult. This is especially true if you’re teaching multiple children with different preferred learning styles. Standard Deviants Accelerate online learning was created with specific styles of learning in mind, and we have a few tips on handling each:
- Visual – Your child likes using pictures to learn and understands images and diagrams easily.
- For teaching math, draw diagrams of how different problems work. Show them visually how to work through equations.
- In history, make use of timelines and maps. Have them draw their own to deepen their understanding of the material.
- Mind maps and color coding are great tools for every subject.
- Standard Deviants Accelerate showcases videos that include lots of graphics, visuals, and animations to foster visual learning.
- Auditory – Your child learns well using sound.
- For reading comprehension, books on tape might be your best bet. Reading aloud to them is a great option as well, but a book on tape is considerably easier on your voice.
- With new vocabulary, spelling words out loud is a great way for your child to learn them. This goes for learning the definitions as well.
- When trying to memorize information, help your child come up with mnemonics or songs to well-known tunes. You’ll be surprised how quickly they pick it up.
- Standard Deviants Accelerate has many features to support auditory learners. In the vocabulary section students can even click the audio symbol to have key words and definitions read to them.
- Kinesthetic – Your child likes learning by doing and relies on their sense of touch.
- You’ll want to rely on physical objects as much as you can. Cut out numbers to do math problems or words to learn vocabulary.
- Building models is not only fun, but will help your child to get the hands-on experience they need with new information.
- When it comes to science, experiments are your best bet.
- Drag-and-drop diagrams are featured in each lesson of Standard Deviants Accelerate to engage kinesthetic learners.
- Linguistic – Your child depends on speech and writing for comprehension.
- One great way of accommodating this learning style is by having your child teach material to you after they’ve learned it. Putting it in their own words is key.
- You can also have them explain concepts in writing, whether that’s through note-taking or simple summaries.
- SDA has writing activities in every lesson and also includes an activity where kids can present a lesson to a parent, called Act It Out.
- Logical – Your child takes a logical approach to learning, preferring patterns and systems.
- Help your child to identify patterns in their learning material. Breaking things down step by step will be very helpful to them.
- Organize and categorize information. Charts, diagrams, and lists can help them to better process and comprehend information.
- Through a consistent layout and intuitive navigation, Standard Deviants Accelerate makes a great tool for logical learners.
- Solitary – Your child learns well alone and can even teach themselves some material.
- One great technique is having your child relate information to themselves or to their lives. An emotional connection is good for comprehension.
- Give them time to process new material and even explore it on their own.
- Allow them to use their imaginations, put their own spin on information, and connect things to their interests.
- Standard Deviants Accelerate is easy for students to navigate on their own and use independently, with little help from parents.
- Social – Your child learns well with others.
- Role-playing is a wonderful technique for social learners as it requires collaboration and discussing concepts with others.
- If you have an only child, allow them to bounce ideas off of you and turn learning into less formal discussions as often as you can.
- Work with them on projects or experiments. Allow them to do the work and learn, but provide a helping hand.
- With SDA, many parents choose a hands-on approach and watch the videos with their kids, discuss the quiz questions, and complete writing activities verbally.
Standard Deviants Accelerate
Standard Deviants Accelerate is a video-based online learning system for homeschoolers in grades 3-12. It is designed to be flexible and individualized in order to accommodate a variety of learning styles and needs. Through videos and a wide range of comprehensive activities, SDA covers everything your child needs to know about a subject, making it the perfect supplemental tool. Whether your family studies at home, or you’re an active family that’s always outside on-the-go, SDA is accessible 24/7 from your desktop, laptop, tablet, or even your smart phone!
Don’t forget to sign up for SDAccelerate’s seven day free trial here!
Post Author: Briana Wilvert, a Standard Deviants Accelerate writer.
Contact: Danielle Bloch
Phone: (866)386-0253 x207
Homeschoolers – 7 Ideas For Outdoor Fun
This is a guest blog post written by Ananya B. from MomJunction.com
The term “couch potato” describes today’s little ones quite aptly. Spoilt for choice with numerous outlets of entertainment like video games, smartphones, tablets and the good ol’ TVs, kids today hardly feel the need to step out and play. During our times, we’d look forward to a day of hardcore camping, trekking, cycling around the town with the cold breeze brushing through our skins and getting our hands dirty trying to build sandcastles. While our kids may hardly complain about their sedentary lifestyles, it is important that we as parents ensure that they also get a taste of the outdoors. Give them a chance to explore, get inspired and learn from the wonders of nature. Here are top seven ideas for fun outdoor activities that you can try with your kids:
1. Backyard Primping – Turn your backyard into the most fun place for you and your kids to unwind! Take their help to build a tree house or plant new saplings with them in your garden. You could also build a child-friendly climbing wall in one corner of your backyard to spark up the adventurous streak in your kids. With so many fun things to do in your lawn, your kids would hardly want to stay indoors.
2. DIY Camping – Whoever said camping meant travelling long hours and shelling out big bucks didn’t probably think of this bright idea! You could create a camping setup right in your garden with just a little bit of your architectural acumen. Bring on the old sheets, tent poles, an inflatable bed set, a campfire and lots of delicious munchies for the perfect camping setup! You’re sure to have many fun moments with this activity!
3. Hook A Fish – Take your kids on a day out fishing and let them discover little marvels of the aquatic life! As fishing can be a slightly difficult task, ensure you go slow and give your child a solid understanding of the basics involved. Along with fishing, let your kids also enjoy their time splashing water, trying out simple water activities like water ball, collecting shells and pebbles, etc. Ensure you supervise each action of your kids especially if their swimming skills aren’t well polished.
4. Star Gazing – If daytime is the perfect time to appreciate the beauty of the earth and its beings, nighttime is perfect to appreciate what’s beyond! Buy a basic telescope and let your children get fascinated by the celestial bodies. This outdoor activity works even better when done in tandem with your kids’ astronomy lessons in school. On the basis of what your kids have learnt at school, ask them to spot different constellations and planets. This activity can also form a part of the camping night.
5. Egg Obstruction – Kids often tend to get bored with routine activities and a pleasant change of scenario can do a lot to boost their enthusiasm levels. This egg obstacle race is a great outdoor activity to do just that! Hand over a plastic spoon and a hard boiled egg each, to your kids. Let them race with each other, crossing all obstacles such as sofa mountains, crumpled paper rocks, etc. to reach the finish line. If the egg falls during the race, your kids must quickly pick it up and resume the race. The first one to reach the finish line is the winner!
6. Walk Across The Woods – A walk through the woods can be extremely therapeutic, not just for your kids, but for you too! You could play I-spy, track animal footprints, pick flowers, click pictures or even play a game of hide and seek in the woods. Many studies have found the developmental benefits (mental, physical and emotional) of the time spent in nature by kids. According to a report by the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, green play can reduce ADHD symptoms in kids.
7. Potluck Picnic – Involve other families in your outdoor plans and double the fun! You could plan a potluck picnic with your close circle of friends and their kids, so it’s a win-win for everyone! Choose a location that has wide green and open spaces for your kids to run around and enjoy freely. Play a game of Frisbee, UNO or let the kids draw and color under the open skies, depending on what they want to do.
Which of these fun activities are you planning to try with your kids? Do let us know in the comments section below. Enjoy the outdoors!
The Wilderness Classroom introduces elementary and middle school students to the wonders of exploration and wilderness travel while improving basic skills like reading, critical thinking and communication.
Each year the Wilderness Classroom designs and undertakes several educational expeditions in remote locations around the world, and shares this experience virtually with students from around the world. They partner with other explorers and travelers interested in sharing their experiences as well.
In addition, Wilderness Classroom offers a number of virtual assemblies, lesson plans, and a Kid Zone on their site. You might want to check it out. And it’s just in time for Earth Day!
Fun! And as we all know, fun learning is forever learning!
The No Impact Project is an international, environmental, nonprofit project, inspired by the No Impact Man book, film, and blog. The No Impact Project uses entertainment, education and group action to engage people in the quest for ways of living that connect individual happiness with service to community and habitat. The No Impact Project offers a free curriculum that connects students’ personal experiences with the environment.
- Can be used on its own or with the other plans.
- Can be taught in one 50-minute class period.
- Is designed for use in grades 6-12, but is easily adapted for older and younger students.
- Provides the popular No Impact Man media resources to engage students and stimulate discussion. Note: It is not required to purchase the DVD and book to use the lesson plans.
Lesson Plan Summary
The five lesson plans in the environmental education curriculum address the following topics:
Consumption: Examine how advertising affects our consumption habits and consider how we can get what we need in ways that do less harm to the environment. Create an alternative gift registry with items that are non-material, secondhand, homemade, service-oriented (such as “fix my bike”), experiential (such as “take me to a concert”), or that come from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible.
Energy: Take a look at the current system of supplying energy to our homes. Find out how to reduce our daily energy consumption and speak out on the need to have long-term, sustainable energy solutions.
Food: Explore how food choices affect the environment and our quality of life. Develop a plan for one meal that includes only food that is seasonal, local, and unpackaged.
Transportation: Study how improved street design could encourage more students to use active forms of transportation like walking or biking to get to school.
Water: Learn ways to conserve water and minimize the amount of chemicals that we put in our drains.
You can even try the No Impact Week Challenge! The No Impact Experiment is a one-week carbon cleanse. It is a chance for you to see what a difference no-impact living can have on your quality of life. It’s not about giving up creature comforts but an opportunity for you to test whether the modern “conveniences” you take for granted are actually making you happier or just eating away at your time and money.
Earth Day Time Capsule is a guest blog post written by Deborah Lee Rose/HowtoSmile.org
Time capsules can cover a calendar year like 2014, or capture a special day like Earth Day. In 2015, Earth Day 45 will take place on Wednesday, April 22. From now until then, you can collect items to create an Earth Day time capsule, with the Howtosmile.org activity Create Your Own Time Capsule. Gather items like photos of endangered species—will they still be endangered when you open your time capsule?
Include a piece of something that can’t be recycled—will there be a recyclable version in years to come? Save an article about the environment—will it still be true in a year or even five years from now? You can also add things like postage stamps with Earth themes, and photos of yourself helping clean up the environment. Talk about what you’re including with your family, friends and classmates. Then seal your capsule and mark it to be opened on a future Earth Day, maybe Earth Day 50 in 2020!
New York Adventures in Homeschooling is offering a multiple week/month, comprehensive program that you can follow in honor of Earth Day! It comes complete with a rubric template, citation guide, project outlines, experiments and lesson plans and it’s just $5.00! AND you’ll also receive full access to all of their current and future free printables! It’s a great deal, we thought you’d like to know about. You don’t have to be a New York homeschooler to take advantage of this offer. http://www.newyorkadventuresinhomeschooling.com/2015/02/earth-day-homeschooling-activities.html
EARTH DAY HOMESCHOOLING ACTIVITIES is a guest blog post written by Carreen Schroeder and New York Adventures in Homeschooling
By now, most of us have heard of Earth Day. Many of us have probably even participated in Earth Day activities over the years but how many of us truly understand the critical state of our planet? Each April, we are once again called to attention and are reminded of what we can do to help reverse the effects of global warming, how we can reduce, reuse and recycle and we once again, begin a conscientious effort to get involved. But then it fizzles away as time presses on.
We are all guilty of this. Life is busy and we are pulled in several different directions all the time. But what if I told you that I have devised a plan? What if you had a complete unit study that could span over several weeks and even months and specifically geared to encourage families to incorporate year-round eco-friendly practices? A unit study that could be incorporated into your homeschooling curriculum, covering several academic subjects, hands-on, family-friendly and fun? Interested? I thought so!
WHY GET INVOLVED?
Well, to put it bluntly, the very survival of our planet and all its inhabitants depends on our involvement. So now, let us consider some troubling statistics:
- According to the WWF, the rate at which we are losing species is between .01 and 0.1% per year. To put this into perspective, let’s run with the WWF’s low estimate of 2 million species on the planet. If this is in fact the case, we are losing between 200 and 2,000 species each year.
- The University of Michigan estimates that we have lost about half of the Earth’s forests due to deforestation. Every year, approximately another 16 million hectares disappear.
- Pollution in our oceans have now created ‘dead zones’ – areas where oxygen has been completely depleted. More than 80% of the pollution comes from oil, garbage, fertilizers, sewage and toxic chemicals.
- In 1910, The Glacier National Park in Montana was home to 150 glaciers. Now there are 27.
- Plastic takes 450 years to begin to decompose and an additional 50 - 80 to completely break down
- A single glass bottle takes 40,000 years to decompose.
- The average North American uses 700 lbs of paper per year. This requires the destruction of over 460 trees.
Need I go on? The Earth needs our help. The animals need our help. Our children need our help. So here is what we can do:
- Turn OFF lights when not in use
- Turn OFF running water while you brush your teeth
- Lower the thermostat in your home
- Always use reusable containers for your lunch when traveling
- Play outside more often and give the video games and the electricity that feeds them, a well deserved rest
- Instead of discarding old furniture, clothes, toys and games, find organizations who would cherish these items and give them new life
Just a little research and effort goes a long way to helping our Earth.
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Earth Day – Ocean Clean Up 2015
This is a guest blog post written by Deborah Lee Rose.
If you do one thing for the environment in 2015, it could be to help clean up and prevent plastic trash from polluting our oceans. More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic may be floating—and sinking deeper—in the world’s oceans, according to scientists. This marine debris includes toys, toothbrushes, bottles, plastic bags, fishing nets and other items that break down into smaller pieces and are carried around the globe by ocean currents and waves.
Planning a marine cleanup for Earth Day 45 or any day in 2015? Add STEM exploration to your environmental efforts with the Howtosmile.org activity A Scientific Cleanup. This is a comprehensive lesson plan for a cleanup trip to a local beach, lake or stream. Learners keep track of and analyze the types and amounts of trash they pick up (including plastic), discuss the marine debris problem in their community, and consider ways to prevent pollution. The lesson helps learners understand the effects of both natural events and human influences on ecosystems. It also teaches them science process skills like forming questions and answering them by experimenting, carrying out research, and designing experimental tests.
Ocean pollution gets really hands-on in the All Tangled Up activity. Learners examine and simulate wildlife entanglement by experiencing what it might be like to be a marine animal trapped in debris. Learners wrap rubber bands around their fingers and across the back of their hands, then try to disentangle themselves.
You can use easy to find images of stuff—or actual stuff—that humans add to ocean or beach pollution in the I Am/Who Has: A Litter Matching Game activity. Learners can discover the source of ocean debris like cans, plastic grocery bags, tires, plastic food wrappers, and water bottles, and how to reduce their use or prevent them from ending up in the ocean.
Drawing what they learn about marine debris can help reinforce students’ understanding of ocean pollution and its environmental impact. Have learners look at thirteen winning student illustrations from NOAA’s 2014 “Keep the Sea Free of Debris” Art Contest. Then encourage them to create their own marine debris themed art for their classroom, home, afterschool program, or even a future art contest.
Younger learners can also do fun games and puzzles from NOAA’s downloadable Understanding Marine Debris booklet. Older learners can check out the new book Plastic Ahoy: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, by Patricia Newman with photos by Annie Crawley. The book follows a scientific expedition out into the ocean to study the effects of plastic pollution, answer questions about what happens when plastic ends up where it doesn’t belong, and explore how it affects ocean life.