Bright Idea: Science Friday’s Sun Camp!

Celebrate all things solar with Sun Camp! Designed for learners ages 5-9 (and the folks who love them), Sun Camp will feature five weeks of great conversations with sun scientists and hands-on activities to try on your own.

The days are getting shorter, but we’ve got a great way to bring some extra sun into your life. This fall join us for a bright idea: Sun Camp! The center of our solar system and our closest star, the Sun is so much more than a light bulb in the sky. It’s a dynamic system, constantly changing. Those changes affect us here on Earth in many ways, some obvious and some mysterious. But understanding the Sun and how it works may hold the key to discovering new living worlds in our Universe.

Top 5 reasons to join Science Friday’s Sun Camp:

  1. All US kids ages 5-9 and their families, caregivers, and siblings are welcome to join us for FREE.
  2. Online Q&As every Wednesday with real scientists and experts. Bring your questions!
  3. Weekly hands-on STEM activities that bring the science of the Sun down to earth.
  4. Detailed instruction guides, additional resources, extension activities and more. No experience necessary!
  5. After-school programs, libraries, and other community organizations are welcome to join in the solar-powered fun.

Want to learn more? Keep scrolling!

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Sun Emits a Solstice CME
This image from June 20, 2013, at 11:15 pm EDT shows the bright light of a solar flare on the left side of the sun and an eruption of solar material shooting through the sun’s atmosphere, called a prominence eruption. Credit: NASA

The Sun 101 – Wednesday, October 19, 2022

  • What are the properties of the Sun and how do they affect its function?
  • Discover what the Sun is made of, how it makes energy, how it changes over time, and what the solar cycle is.
  • Create a swirling model of the Sun with shaving cream and food coloring.

The Solar System – Wednesday, October 26, 2022

  • How does the Sun affect the planets of our solar system?
  • Learn the intricate ways the Sun, moon, and planets interact with one another.
  • Test gravitational and centripetal forces using plastic eggs, marbles, and paper plates.

The Sun & Earth – Wednesday, November 2, 2022

  • Why is the Sun important to Earth?
  • Explore the many ways light from the Sun affects life on Earth.
  • Make shadow tracings and examine the effects of ultraviolet light.

Solar Weather – Wednesday, November 9, 2022

  • How do the cycles of the Sun affect Earth?
  • Delve into space weather and the Aurora Borealis.
  • Study the power of magnetic forces and test their limits.

Beyond the Sun – Wednesday, November 16, 2022

  • How can our understanding of the Sun help us learn more about other stars, solar systems, and planets?
  • Look beyond our solar system to distant stars and the planets that orbit them.
  • Design your own mini space probe out of recycled materials.

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Sun Camp FAQ

Sole Active Region in Profile
The Sun’s rotation brought a new active region into view, revealing the dynamic arches and twisting streams of its magnetic field (Oct. 10-11, 2018). Credit: NASA

Who is this for?

All kids in the United States and their sun-loving caregivers are welcome to join us as we build, experiment, and investigate using activities that bring the science of the Sun down to earth. Not a heliophysics expert? No problem! We’ll have weekly newsletters, detailed project guides, short instructional videos, Q&A sessions with real NASA scientists, extension activities, and many tips for helping young people feel successful and engaged.

Got a group? Great! Clubs, scouts, after-school programs, libraries, museums, homeschool co-ops, and other community organizations are welcome to join in the solar-powered fun.

What can I expect from Sun Camp?

Science Friday’s Sun Camp will kick off on Wednesday, October 19 and runs until November 16. After you enroll, you’ll receive a weekly email newsletter with everything you need to know to participate in Sun Camp. You’ll also be invited to a special online session each Wednesday at 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET. During this virtual gathering, we’ll dive into an important solar science topic with a guest expert from NASA who will answer the questions of our budding scientists. You’ll also have access to a new hands-on science or engineering activity each week to complete on your own, using instructions and resources provided by the Science Friday team of educators. As you complete the projects, you can share your work with us and we’ll feature it online. When Sun Camp is over, there will be a brief survey about your experience.

Aurora Impact
Illustration of a CME particle cloud blasted from the sun impacting Earth and creating aurora (in actual photo of aurora as taken by an astronaut on the space station). Credit: NASA/GSFC/SOHO/ESA

How much does it cost?

Sun Camp is totally free. Most of the materials for the activities are easy to find around the house or at the local hardware store. We’re also offering to limited number of free materials kits for groups and families that meet our criteria.

How do I participate?

Simply fill out a short form to enroll in Sun Camp. And be sure to check out regularly for updates and to check out the creations of your fellow sun science explorers.

Why the Sun?

Well, the Sun is pretty important to life on Earth, to the workings of our solar system, and to the future of both space exploration and alternative energy, so we want everyone to have the chance to learn more about our closest star. We’ve partnered with NASA Heliophysics Education Activation Team (NASA HEAT). NASA HEAT connects audiences across the nation to the innovative and captivating science of heliophysics—the physics of the Sun and its connection with the Solar System. Together Science Friday and NASA HEAT are launching learners of all ages on a trajectory towards scientific discovery.

What if I have more questions?

Please email with the subject line “SciFri Sun Camp.” For updates on registration, we suggest you subscribe to our Science Friday Educate Newsletter, join the STEM Educator’s Lounge on Facebook, and follow Science Friday on Twitter.

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Meet the Writer

Sandy Roberts

About Sandy Roberts

Sandy Roberts is Science Friday’s Education Program Manager, where she creates learning resources and experiences to advance STEM equity in all learning environments. Lately, she’s been playing with origami circuits and trying to perfect a gluten-free sourdough recipe.

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