Amazing Sun Fun Activities Grades 5-8

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Forward to the Revised and Updated Edition

In the nearly two decades since the publication of Amazing Sun Fun Activities, little has changed in our understanding of how to use solar energy for the benefit of humanity and the Earth's environment. The principles introduced in this book remain as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago when the Greeks learned to face their houses into the sun to keep warm in the winter. However, since 1998, there has been a quiet and dramatic revolution in the use of renewable energy of all types. Perhaps most startling is the fact that utility scale wind power is now the cheapest source of electricity in the world.

As for solar electricity, my favorite technology, the cost for panels dropped over 63% between 2010 and 2014. These sharp drops in cost for wind and solar have made renewable energy not only the right choice for the Earth's environment, but the economical one in many cases. The growing recognition that we must reduce carbon dioxide generation by fossil fuels to prevent further climate change is also a major factor driving renewable energy use.

In my small state of Vermont alone, 38 million watts of solar electric power was installed in 2014. From a scattering of solar powered houses in 1998, we now boast enough solar electricity to power 7,000 homes. My own tiny solar powered cabin has gone from an ancient early generation 60 watt panel to a single modern 100 watt panel. We've installed the latest LED light technology and use super efficient laptop computers yes, all my books are still written using solar power! all of which allows us to do more with less.

Worldwide a mere 800 million watts of solar electricity was installed when Amazing Sun Fun Activities was first published in 1998. Today over 100 million million watts (called gigawatts) of solar power is in use. The numbers are even more dramatic for wind power with only 6.1 gigawatts in 1998 now surging up to 283 gigawatts.

In all, renewable energy supplies about 22% of the world's electricity today.

There is good news on the recycling front, too. About 35% of all our waste is now recycled, up more than 10% from 1998 levels. Good, but not great. I'm sorry to report that you will still have no problem finding disposable containers to re-purpose for your solar junk box. So please remember to recycle as much as possible when a you've finished a project.
In this revised and updated edition, all time-linked sun facts have been updated. I have added a resource section. The text and experiments remain as in the original. I'm delighted to report that Smokeless S'mores are as popular today as when I first introduced the pizza box solar oven project in my first solar activity book, At Home With the Sun, in 1995.

As always, my objective is to convey the history and principles of solar energy to encourage scientific curiosity and practices. Young people inspired by Amazing Sun Fun Activities can be confident they will step into into a world of renewable energy eager for their talents as scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. They will find no lack of challenges and innovations required to keep modern civilization humming in a more friendly relationship with our planet.

Have Fun In the Sun!
Michael J. Daley
Westminster West, Vermont 2015


Specifically written with the middle school child in mind, this book will lead both the enthusiastic and the reluctant science student to a deeper understanding of the principles of solar energy. Loaded with intriguing facts and do-able, inexpensive experiments:

SUN FACT On average 1000 watts of solar energy fall on a 3' by 3' patch of ground about the size of a sidewalk square. That's enough power to light ten 100 watt light bulbs!

SUN FUN Build a Sun Dial out of a drink cup and straw.

Amazing Sun Fun Activities covers the history of the discoveries and uses of solar energy across world cultures beginning with the Greeks 2,500 years ago up to modern times. Written in a friendly, accessible style that connects sophisticated solar energy concepts to everyday aspects of the student's life. The illustrations are accurate without being overly technical, often humorous, definitely full of child appeal and lead to an open, inviting page.

Educational features of special interest to teachers and home-schooling parents include:

basic experimental approach includes concept of controls

text and activities encourage scientific method /​ curiosity /​ and technique

reproducible charts and graphs for data gathering and display

inexpensive readily found materials designed for success and to encourage further exploration

encourages the desire to innovate and improve upon initial discoveries

high incentive projects: build a pizza box solar oven to cook Smokeless S'mores!

clear instructions and diagrams for all experiments

every project follows a clear protocol: introduction of project purpose & questions being explored, materials list, building it, using it, and often include discussion to facilitate

understanding of results and suggestions for further exploration

adaptable to fulfill many common core requirements

Quick Links


In this follow-up to Space Station Rat (2005), Jeff and his superintelligent rodent friend, Rat, are still stuck in space. Jeff is looking forward to returning to Earth with Rat, but the adults have more sinister plans for Rat. --- Booklist
Details on how to read my 100 watt twitter & about my new solar presentations
Stewart dreams of becoming a rocket pilot like his Mom, who died in a terrible space shuttle accident, but his father is absolutely opposed to his dream. And then Stewart meets an old spacer with a very special mission...
Science Fiction
An escaped, genetically engineer rat; a bored, lonely boy; an evil robot meet on a space station. Someones life is in danger!
Want to cook s'mores using solar energy? Take a bath in sun-heated water? Read Space Station Rat using solar electricity? This is the book for you!