Summertime Sun Project

As it draws to an end, has summer vacation lost its luster for your kiddos? Are they bored? Here’s a fun project that will keep them busy and entertained for a while, as well as providing a little science lesson.  It’s called “Sun Printing” and I found it at the Adventure Science Center.

The materials you’ll need are:

Dark, bright colored construction paper

Different sized and shaped leaves

Rocks to hold the leaves in place

Double-sided tape

Lots of sunshine


Find a nice, sunny spot where your print can remain undisturbed for a few hours. A sidewalk or patio table will work just fine.

Tape down your construction paper to the surface so doesn’t blow away.

Arrange the leaves on the paper, then weigh them down with small rocks.

After 4 or 5 hours, remove the leaves to reveal your print! (Note: the longer you wait, the more contrast you’ll have.)

The scientific stuff…. J (You’ll want to adapt this according to your child’s age):


  1. Sun– (noun) the star around which the planets revolve, from which they receive heat and light, and which has an average distance from the Earth of about 93,000,000 miles, a diameter of 864,000 miles, and a mass 332,000 times greater than Earth
  2. Ultraviolet– (adjective) used to describe rays of light that cannot be seen and that are slightly shorter than the rays of violet light
  3. Radiant Energy– (noun) energy transmitted in the form of electromagnetic waves (as heat waves, light waves, radio waves, X-rays)
  4. Photodegradation–(noun) degradation by means of radiant energy (as light)
  5. Wavelength–(noun) the distance (as from crest to crest) in the line of advance of a wave from any one point to the next corresponding point.

And now for the explanation. (Again, you’ll want to gear this toward your child’s individual level):

“There are light-absorbing color bodies, known as chromophores, which are present in dyes. The colors we see are based upon these chemical bonds and the amount of light that is absorbed in a particular wavelength.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays can break down the chemical bonds and fade the colors in an object, ultimately “bleaching” the object. Some objects may be more prone to fading, while others may reflect the light more, making them less prone to fading.”

To go even further with the experiment, make a couple of prints using lighter colored construction paper and compare them to the prints made on darker colored paper. Encourage your kids to be creative and use items other than leaves. Just about anything with distinctive borders can be used… toy action figures, doll clothes, or even kitchen utensils.

Before you know it, they’ll be back in their classrooms, but you’ll have some great refrigerator art to remind you of those fun, summer days.


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