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Using Heat from the Sun

Author(s): Nancy P. Moreno, PhD, Barbara Z. Tharp, MS, and Judith Dresden, MS.

Let's Talk About It

In this activity, students observe that energy from the sun can heat water. Sunlight passes through the atmosphere and warms Earth’s surface, along with the living things on it. The sun is the ultimate source of almost all energy on Earth.

Ask, What happened to the water in the cup that you placed in the sun? Did it become warmer or colder, or stay the same temperature? What about the water in the cup you left in the dark? 

Follow by asking, What temperature did you record for the water in each cup? At the end of the investigation, which cup held warmer water? Was your initial prediction correct? 

Finally, ask students why they think the water in the cup exposed to sunlight got warmer. Help them to understand that energy from the sun warmed the water.


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932


Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education