Going Solar: Helping Your Kids Understand the New Solar Panels in Your Home
If you are planning to go solar this year, take advantage of the opportunity to help your kids learn the benefits of solar energy and STEM. Follow this guide for activities and lessons to help you start the conversation.
What is Solar Energy?
The first question your children may ask is: what is solar energy? You can answer by breaking down what both words mean separately and together. Once they have a basic understanding, you can talk to them about how to produce it. Start by asking them ways they think the sun creates energy. An easy demonstration is with two balloons of two opposite colors, like white and black, and two bottles filled with water. Stick the balloons on top of the bottles, and the darker of the two balloons will start filling up. You can easily show how darker colors absorb the sun rays and convert it to heat, providing a real example of the sun’s energy at work.
Why Use Solar Energy?
Once your children have a basic understanding of solar energy, ask them why they think it is a great resource and what they think a solar panel does. This question is an excellent opportunity to explain why you are getting solar panels for home use. You can have your children give examples of when they could use solar energy at home and school. This is a great time to start showing your children how solar energy can be used for more than just generating heat. An easy example is with plants, explaining the photosynthesis process and how it helps plants to grow. With this real-life example, your kids will have a daily reminder of the power of the sun.
Where Can You Use Solar Panels?
After explaining solar energy and its benefits, start discussing where is best for creating solar energy. Take your kids outside your home and walk around. Look for places where there is a lot of sunshine and where there is limited exposure. Ask your children which area is better for solar panel placement. An easy way to demonstrate the answer is by taking two ice cubes out with you. Ask your children to place an ice cube where there is the highest sun and lowest sun exposure. Once the first cube has melted, ask your children why they think that happened. This activity will help your child understand where is better for solar panels and why.
How to Get Started
As you teach your kids about solar energy, they may be curious about how to get involved themselves. As you get your solar panels installed, talk with your kids about what the solar panels will be powering. Start by showing your children where you installed the solar panels and where they connect into your house. Then, have them walk through the house, pointing out where the panels will be powering each room. This exercise will help your kid have a real-life understanding of the impact these new panels will have on their home. As you walk around, remind your kids how the sun creates the energy, the panels absorb them and why you put the panels where they are.
If your children are curious, there are plenty of resources to help you explain the value of solar energy and the environment. By helping your kids understand your new panels, you will help them get greater knowledge of their environment and home. You can also plan a variety of activities to help your kids get a hands-on understanding of renewable energy and its benefits. Before you start any project, be sure to read through the instructions and required materials so you are ready before your kids start the activity.
Solar panels provide an excellent opportunity to help your children learn about solar energy and get a start in the STEM field. Your kids will love learning this new information and about their new greener home.