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Summer Sun

Topic: 3F Light and shadows

2008 saw the dullest August in the UK since records began in 1929 according to the Met Office. There were just 105.5 hours of sunshine, far less than the average for the month of 165.1 hours.

In this activity children will investigate ways of measuring sunshine and discuss the validity of these methods.

Large activity image
Try the Activity Learning Objective

Click to Download Summer Sun activity
Summer Sun activity

Click to Download Summer Sun teacher notes
Summer Sun teacher notes


You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

You will also need the latest version of the flash player to be able to play swf files.

· that the light from the sun can be blocked by opaque objects

Children will demonstrate this by completing the task on page 2 successfully

· that shadows are formed on sunny days

Children will demonstrate this by completing the task on page 3 successfully

· that shadows can change through the day

Children will demonstrate this by completing the task on page 3 successfully

· that there are diffent methods of measuring sunshine and some are better than others

Children will demonstrate this by completing the task on page 4 successfully

Curriculum Link

QCA Unit 3F: Light and shadows
· that opaque objects/materials do not let light through
· that shadows of objects in sunlight change over the course of the day
· that shadows change in length and position throughout the day
Scientific enquiry
· consider what sources of information they will use to answer questions
· deciding what evidence to collect
· deciding whether evidence is sufficient to support conclusions


· make contributions relevant to the topic and take turns in discussion
· present findings to other groups


· use standard measures
· use tables and bar charts to record results

Running the Activity

Introducing the activity
· Display Page 1 through a projector or as an OHT. What is the image showing? What do the children think? Did they notice that the weather in August 2008 was less sunny?

Discussion starter:
How can we measure how much sun we have had in a day?
Children to talk about it in groups.
Discuss their first ideas.

Leading the main activity

· Display Page 2 through a projector or as an OHT. What are the images showing?

Discussion questions:
How come there is still a shadow even though the Sun is behind a cloud?
What if the sky was totally cloudy?
What happens when bright sun goes behind a cloud briefly?
Can shadows be faint and dark? When?
Children to talk about it in groups.

· Display Page 3 through a projector or as an OHT.

· Display Page 4 through a projector or as an OHT. Print off copies for the children. Children to work in pairs to make observations from their practical investigation and display their findings

Discussion questions:
What are your conclusions? How did you make your conclusions?
Do you think this investigation was a good way of measuring sunshine?
Would you change it? How?

Web Links

BBC News
News story behind the activity

Met Office
Weather information from the month of August

Met Office
General information about the British climate

Fact Monster
Weather definitions and information

BBC Science Clips
Interactive activity on light and shadows

World Sunlight Map
Watch the sun rise and set around the world, in real time!

Virtual Science Fair
Interesting facts about sunlight

Morehead Planetarium
Facts about the sun

British Weather
Information and links about our great British weather

Reviews & Comments

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