October is Energy Awareness Month. As such, it is a good time to introduce some energy-themed projects and activities to your classroom. Because solar energy is such an important part of a clean and renewable energy future for our world, it might be a good idea to put some real focus on that type of energy. By all means, touch on other types of energy, as well. With these classroom projects, you can make learning about energy and how it affects everyone fun for your students. When they are having fun, they will be learning more, and that is always the goal.
Introduce the Concept of Energy
Before kids can understand the different types of energy, like solar, they need to get a firm grasp on what energy actually is. Using your science time is the perfect way to introduce it. You can use everyday examples in the classroom to demonstrate energy, such as the electricity that powers the lights, the force that gives the kids the ability to run and dance, and the metals used to build circuits that make the Internet come alive.
Ask the kids to give you more examples of what they think energy is and where it is located in your classroom, the school, and at their homes. Since we’re focusing on solar energy, point to the sun and explain to them how it generates energy, as well.
You might also want to use this time to introduce the concepts of hydro and wind energy, and how they operate things just like electricity does.
Show Your Students Some Solar Powered Items
There are enough inexpensive, and even everyday, solar items in use now that you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a few. Solar powered calculators, flashlights, fans, and outdoor lights for sidewalk paths are all examples of some things you can use.
Let the kids touch them, play with them (if it’s safe to do so), and explain how the solar panels on them store up energy they collect from the sun, and then use that energy to operate even when it’s dark.
Use Art to Help Kids Understand Solar Energy
Have the kids draw pictures of how the sun gives energy to the solar panels, how the panels store the energy, and how the energy is then released at the appropriate time to operate the items you’ve shown them. If you are tying the overall lesson about energy, and solar energy in particular, into more than just your science time, you can use art time for drawing these pictures. Kids like to make color pictures, so they will have a better time if you give them crayons or colored pencils to do this activity at school.
Take Them Outside
On a sunny day, take the kids outside and tell them to feel the rays of the sun on them. Remind them that what they are feeling is energy. Ask them to show you how much energy they’re getting by being in the sun. Then, let them run around the playground or physical education field to demonstrate their own “solar powered” selves. They’ll love it, and come back inside the classroom in the perfect frame of mind to be receptive to more learning.