The longest day of the year comes every summer during the month of June. Learn why summer days are longer and enjoy the warmer weather while doing science projects outside.
You can make fun pictures using the sun's power to fade the color from construction paper! This project uses repositionable glue, which you can find in most stores that sell office or school supplies (Elmer's and Scotch brands both make this type of glue). You could also do the project by setting objects on your paper and laying it flat in the sun instead of using the special glue.
Have you ever left an art project made from construction paper in the sun for too long? If so, you probably noticed that the color started to fade and the paper ended up a lot lighter than it once was. In this project, you covered parts of the paper with paper shapes, then when you left your picture in the sunlight, it started to fade. Since the shapes blocked sunlight from hitting the parts of the paper they covered, you could see the original color of the paper after you peeled off the shapes! The extra layer of paper from the shapes protected those parts of the paper from the sun's rays that faded the color from the rest of the sheet of paper.
Sunlight contains ultraviolet (or UV) rays - the same rays that will give you a sunburn if you are in the sun for too long without sunscreen on. Those rays cause chemical reactions in the dye that gives construction paper its color. When the paper absorbs the rays of light, a chemical reaction breaks down the dyes so they aren't as bright. UV rays can lighten a lot of things. Some people's hair turns a lighter color when they are in a lot of sunlight. Hanging white laundry outside in the sun to dry can make it look whiter also.
To make prints like this in just a few minutes you can get a Sunprint Kit that contains special colored paper.
Create a design on the sidewalk by tracing shadows! Pick a sunny day to do this project. Make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat to protect your eyes.
Did you know that light travels faster than anything else in the universe? It travels so fast in fact, that while it would take 200 years to reach the sun traveling as fast as a car (60 mph), it only takes light from the sun eight minutes to reach earth! Light travels in a straight line from the sun to earth. Light doesn't stop, it keeps moving - unless something big gets in its way. Any solid object like the umbrella or your hand will block the light. The light can't move through it, so it goes around it. Below the solid object there is a shadow. A shadow is a space that light didn't hit, because something was in its way. If you like, try casting a shadow with an object that is clear such as a piece of plastic wrap or a glass.
Did you notice that your shadow changed sizes when you moved your hand up and down? The closer to a surface the object is, the bigger the shadow will be! If you hold your hand above your head, the shadow is much smaller than if you hold your hand a few inches from the ground. As the sun is overhead, it casts a shadow right onto the ground. Shadows in winter and summer will look different based on the sun's position in the sky. Shadows in the morning will also look different than shadows made in the afternoon or evening. Where the sun is in the sky determines what the shadow on the ground looks like.
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What is Summer?
Summer is the season that comes after spring and before fall. In many places, summer is the warmest time of the whole year. During summer, sunrise happens earlier and sunset happens later, which gives us more hours of daylight. The longest day of the year, called the Summer Solstice (say: SOLE-stiss), happens inJune. This year the Summer Solstice is on June 20, 2012. That means that June 20 is the longest day of the whole year!
You might know that it takes one year for the earth to move around the sun one time. As the earth moves around the sun, it is tilted slightly to one side, similar to how a globe looks with the north pole slightly off center. Have you heard of the equator? It is an imaginary line around the middle of the earth that divides earth into two halves, a northern half and a southern half. In summer, the earth is tilted so that the Northern Hemisphere (including the United States Canada, and parts of Europe) gets the most sun. While it's summer for us, those living in the Southern Hemisphere (including South America and Australia) are experiencing the cold weather of winter. The sun shines directly on the equator all year, so how warm or cold your seasons are depends on how far away you live from the equator. If you live close to the equator, you probably don't experience very big changes in temperature when the seasons change.
The sun gives us warmth and light. In the Northern Hemisphere, there are many green, growing things during spring and summer. This is because plants need sunlight and water to grow. Flowers, vegetables, and other plants all grow during the summer!
Have you ever noticed that it is sometimes cooler in the shade? This is because the sun is not hitting the ground directly. When the sun hits the ground, the ground soaks in the heat. During summer the days are longer. Longer days mean more sunlight is coming down on us, and more sunlight means more heat, which makes the days warmer.