Lesson 4: Heat and the Sun

Getting Started

In this lesson you will explore heat as a form of energy and will examine the role the Sun plays as a light and heat source. You will also learn the laws that govern energy.

Stuff You Need

  • Let's Explore Energy by Moving Beyond the Page
  • 3 glasses or cups
  • alligator clips (kit)
  • battery (kit)
  • buzzer (kit)
  • cardboard (kit)
  • color wheel (kit)
  • dark colored clothing
  • dowel rods (kit)
  • gears (kit)
  • hot glue gun or strong fast tack craft glue
  • lids (kit)
  • light colored clothing
  • magnifying glass (kit)
  • markers
  • motor (kit)
  • solar panel (kit)
  • straws (kit)
  • tape
  • white paper

Ideas to Think About

  • What is the unique relationship between the Sun and living things?
  • What is the Sun's relationship to different types of energy?
  • How does energy change?

Things to Know

  • Thermodynamics is a branch of science that focuses on heat and how it is related to work, energy, temperature, and matter.
  • The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be changed.
  • The second law of thermodynamics states that energy always moves from hot things to cold things.
  • The third law of thermodynamics states that nothing can be colder than absolute zero (-276.16 degrees C / - 459.67 degrees F).
  • The Sun's energy can be used to do work and to heat our homes.


  • Recognize that energy comes from the Sun to the Earth in the form of light. (S)
  • Identify sources of stored energy, such as food, fuel, and batteries. (S)
  • Understand that heat is transferred from hot things to cool things. (S)
  • Identify and explain the laws of thermodynamics. (S)

Introducing the Lesson

Explain to your child that in this lesson she will explore the Sun's role as a source of energy. The activities for Day 2 require a sunny day. If you don't have the proper weather conditions, move on to the next lesson and complete this lesson on your next sunny day.
Reading and Questions
Materials: Let's Explore Energy by Moving Beyond the Page
Read about the laws of energy on pages 13-14 of the Let's Explore Energy booklet. Then answer these questions.
  1. What topics scientists study if they were interested in thermodynamics?
    They would study the following topics and the relationships between them: heat, temperature, matter, energy, and work.
  2. At what temperature do atoms have no thermal energy?
    Absolute zero. This equates to -459.67°F, or -273.15°C.
  3. What else, besides energy, does the first law of thermodynamics apply to?
    It also applies to matter.