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DIY Sun Science
Pros: Great hands-on activities, gorgeous images, videos, and a sun observatory are all in one convenient location.
Cons: Kids don't have an opportunity to assess what they have learned.
Bottom Line: Excellent, free reference tool inspires and teaches kids about the sun.
In the classroom, DIY Sun Science could be used to plan and conduct hands-on activities related to astronomy lessons about the sun. Prepare materials ahead of time and have kids work in small groups to complete the activities. It's probably a good idea to review an activity's Summary and Instructions as a class before kids get started. Review the Explanation section and watch any related videos as a class after each activity. It could also be fun to have kids check out the live images in the Sun Observatory each day over a period of time and discuss any changes they observe.
DIY Sun Science is a free NASA-funded reference tool that's packed with information and activities related to the sun. Kids can tap to explore three different areas within the app: Activities, Images and Videos, or the Sun Observatory. The 13 hands-on activities are each organized into sections that make it easy to plan and conduct the activity. The Summary section gives an overview of the activity's objective, age level appropriateness, and a breakdown of the time required for preparation, activity completion, and cleanup. The Materials section includes a bulleted materials list and any applicable safety precautions. The Instructions section includes step-by-step instructions, along with pictures that illustrate how to do each step. This is extremely helpful if kids are doing the activities on their own or in small groups. And the Explanation section presents the science behind the activity, includes links to related videos from the app, and occasionally offers an extension activity.
The Images and Videos page includes an image gallery and several videos that teach kids more detailed information about the sun. The Sun Observatory shows live images of the sun from a NASA satellite. Kids can move a slider to compare images, and then tap a Learn button to read more about the sun. A Puzzle button challenges kids to match images of the sun with the correct term.
With DIY Sun Science, kids can learn just about anything related to the sun. The hands-on activities are a great learning approach since kids tend to remember more by doing, and the follow-up explanations do a fantastic job of detailing the science behind the activities. You will have to put in some extra planning and prep work to gather and set up materials for the activities, and kids will likely need supervision while completing the steps. However, everything is very well organized, and most materials can be found around the house or classroom.
By completing the activities and watching the videos, kids can learn about a wide range of topics, including solar storms, solar flares, the sun's diameter, ultraviolet light, solar energy, and much more. Formal assessments aren't part of the app's learning experience, so you'll need to create your own if desired.