Let The Sun Shine In!

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Updated on Feb 08, 2012

Grade Level: 4th - 6th; Type: Physics


To investigate if heat from direct sunlight is hotter than heat from reflected sunlight.

Research Questions

  • Does sunlight produce heat?
  • Does reflected sunlight produce heat?
  • Which produces more heat direct or reflected sunlight?

Sunlight produces heat.


  • 2 thermometers
  • mirror
  • modeling clay
  • sunlight shining through a window
  • 2 tables

Experimental Procedure

  1. Gather the necessary materials.
  2. Start by determining if the thermometers record temperatures equally. Place the thermometers close together in the same room. Wait five minutes. Then read the temperatures and record. Note any difference between the temperatures and thermometers.
  3. Use the modeling clay to make stands for the thermometers and mirror. Be sure the bulb end of the of the thermometers is showing and the other end is in the clay.
  4. Place one table by a window where direct sunlight is shining through. Place the second table a short distance away from the window but out of the direct sunlight.
  5. Place the mirror on the table with receiving the direct sunlight. Position the mirror so that the sunlight reflects from the mirror and on to the other table. This will take some maneuvering to get the mirror and the tables set properly.
  6. Place one thermometer on the table in the direct sunlight and the only thermometer on the table out of the direct sunlight, but in the light being reflected by the mirror. Wait 10 minutes. Record the temperatures.
  7. Analyze the data and draw a conclusion.

Terms/Concepts: reflection: the return of light or heat after striking a surface; Sunlight produces heat.


“Sunlight and Solar Energy” at http://www.sciencekidsathome.com/science_topics/sunlight_a.html “The Basics of Light” at http://fuse.pha.jhu.edu/~wpb/spectroscopy/basics.html

Nancy Rogers Bosse has been involved in education for over forty years - first as a student, then as a teacher, and currently as a curriculum developer. For the last fifteen years she has combined a career in freelance curriculum development with parenthood - another important facet of education and probably the most challenging. Nancy lives in Henderson, Nevada with husband and their three teenagers.

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