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Solar Energy for Kids

What's the best way to explain solar energy for kids?

Solar energy, photovoltaic panels, power converters - they all sound very familiar to us adults and the principles on which solar technologies are based are pretty simple to understand if we give ourselves the time to study them a little.

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But when it comes to explaining the concepts to kids, things are different because children lack lots of knowledge and technical terms. This is why, no matter how much you'd try to simplify some concepts and put them into simple and common words, to your kids those information may still sound strange and impossible to understand.

An easier way of explaining solar technologies to children would be involving them in some educational games and activities, but before doing this, they still need to be taught some terms and facts.

Basics of solar energy for kids

We agreed that in order to teach our kids what solar technology means and how these systems work we need to point out some basic terms at first and to help children understand them.

So let's see how we should talk about the source of solar energy for kids! They surely know what sun is and they probably are aware of the fact that this big start that rules the universe produces not only heat but also light!

Therefore we could start by explaining our children that just like humans the sun has the ability of stretching its arms and reaching things, only that these big solar arms are invisible to us, mortals. These arms are called rays and they are very warm, so when the sun touches anything, that particular object or place becomes warm as well.

Also, these solar rays are made of light, which can be 'seen' or felt by us all during daytime, but when the sun goes to sleep, its light is no longer visible because this big star covers its arms with the black blanket of the night!

Now let's see how we can explain solar power or solar energy for kids! Well we could tell them that similar to our arms, sun's rays are very powerful only that they show this power in different forms than we do.

Solar power or energy can be felt here on Earth in two different forms, and these are the electricity and the heat. The heat is easily felt by anyone during summer days when the air is very warm and the water outdoor has an increased temperature. At this point of your discussion, you could simply take your kid out and let him or her feel the sun's warmth!

Photovoltaic solar energy for kids

Now, explaining electricity generated by solar energy for kids is surely a tough task, but not an impossible one! Your children are already common with electronic equipments such as TVs, refrigerators, laptops or radios.

So you can start by telling them that in order to work and to display images or to keep foods cool, these devices require a form of energy, just like people need food and water in order to fulfill their daily tasks!

For this purpose, people invented some equipments filled with some small particles which are alive, just like us, and need a specific type of 'food' in order to work. These equipments are called 'photovoltaic cells' and when more cells are put together, they form a solar panel.

As you can see, when explaining solar energy for kids we have to find similarities with things and actions they do understand and see in their daily activities. So in certain moments of your discussion you should simply show them a tangible example. But let's get back to the previous explanation!

Now, each solar cell contains small entities called electrons, which look a little different than humans but they are active, just like us! These electrons like sunlight very much and when they are touched by solar rays, they become very active and playful and they start running from one place to another, inside the photovoltaic cells.

Funny way of describing solar energy for kids, isn't it? So let's go on and see what happens when these particles begin their run! Well, the space inside photovoltaic cells is limited therefore these electrons begin to collide and each time they do this, they loose some energy, just like people loose their energy when they run or do other physical activities!

This small energy that is lost by each particle remains inside the cell and it keep accumulating, so that at a certain point, there's so much energy inside the solar panel that it needs to find a way to get out!

For this purpose, people invented those small power outlets which can be found in each house and are used for powering electronic equipments. Those outlets are the windows or doors through which the energy inside solar cells manages to get out from those small rooms.

If nothing is plugged into those power outlets, the energy manages to run away and can't be found because it's invisible to human eyes, just like solar arms and like electrons! So we need to find a way to capture this energy before it disappears.

This is why we use cables through which energy reaches into the TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, lamps or laptops and makes them do different actions! Just like the energy we get from foods makes us play or run or do other activities!

These solar panels or cells we talked about can be used for powering various devices, for warming the water, for heating the air, for running car batteries and many other tools! But in some cases, larger amounts of energy are needed so we have to find a way to store this form of energy for later use.

And the easiest way to do it is to capture it inside some small boxes, right when the small electricity particles prepare to run out from the photovoltaic cells. These boxes are called solar batteries and they are pretty similar to regular batteries - I'm sure your child saw one so from this point, the explanation of solar energy for kids should become a little easier!

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