DIY Homeschooler

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Summer Fun Activity: Build a Sunspot Viewer

Summer Fun Activity: Build a Sunspot Viewer

Summer Fun Activity: Build a Sunspot Viewer

Mothers are known for admonishing their children not to look at the sun.  And with good reason — looking directly at the sun can cause permanent damage to our eyes.  But that doesn’t mean you cannot see the sun’s spots.  This summer fun activity from National Geographic provides a way to view the sunspots on the sun without looking directly at it: build a sunspot viewer!

First, watch the video where a NASA scientist explains exactly what sun spots are.

After going over the safety concerns, the participants build a pinhole viewer to view the sunspots.  Here is a list of the supplies you will need:

Summer Fun Activity: Build a Sunspot Viewer
  • Aluminum foil
  • Pencils
  • Rulers
  • Sewing needles or push pins
  • Shoeboxes, or 2-foot rectangular cardboard boxes
  • Telescope or binoculars
  • Transparent tape
  • White paper
  • White poster board

The telescope and binoculars are optional, used for creating a telescope or binocular projector — another way of building a sunspot viewer.

Students will use the viewer they make to calculate the diameter of the sun.

But the project doesn’t end there.  Participants are provided with a Sunspot Mapping Grid that allows them to track the sunspots over time.

This is an excellent activity laid out with complete instructions to fit both older and younger students (by making the modifications listed on the sidebar).  It is a great way to ease back into school and another great tool for the homeschool handy-mom!

Solar Cycles: A Unit Study

We’ve added this activity to our solar cycles unit study.

Additional Resources

Tracking Sunspots
Lesson plan from NASA.

Collection of Science Notebooking Pages {Free}
Nice collection of pages to document the fun.

10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #7 Science

10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #7 Science
Other ideas for recording the activity.

Other sun-related activities:

Summer Fun Activity: Solar Observation
See what else you can observe on the sun.

Summer Fun Activity: Sun Prints
Fun and simple.

Summer Fun Activity: Total Solar Eclipse
Learn about total solar eclipses.

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