Homeschool Science: Fun in the Sun with Solar Beads

Looking for a fun way to teach your children about UV light? Especially during the spring and summer months when they need to be wearing sunglasses and sunscreen, or in my kids cases, swim shirts as well.

In her comment earlier this week, Laurel reminded me of solar beads (aka UV Beads or Energy Beads). These are a great tool for teaching your kids about UV light and have some fun as well.

At first appearances, solar beads look like just little white plastic beads, like you would use for a kid’s beading project. But these are special in that when they are exposed to UV light they turn colors and then turn white again once out of the UV light.

We were first introduced to these last year and the kids loved them. The olders each made their own bracelets and had great fun showing them off to others. It was a novelty to see how much the beads would change color (if at all) under different types of light.

Personally I love Laurel’s idea of using the beads as a reminder to the kids to put on sunscreen. But in addition to that, the beads can be used in various experiments on how effective sunglasses and/or different levels of SPF sunscreen are in blocking out UV light, as well as how we are exposed to UV light under different light and weather conditions.

You can buy solar beads from a variety of sources online, just search for “solar beads”, “UV beads”, or “Energy Beads”. Amazon.com has several sets of a variety of quantities. And, Laurel recommended Steve Spangler Science, and I have to say a few minutes on that website and I am hooked.

Not only do they sell different quantities of solar beads, but also have written instructions for experiments with solar beads and and an explanation on how the solar beads work (look at the bottom of the solar bead experiment page). The site also contains lots of free science experiment videos, including this one on solar beads. Lots of fun to watch and get ideas from.

Enjoy!

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