Combining Art and Science: Sun Prints

We’ve been reading and learning about the sun lately. It seemed like a fitting subject to learn about during the summer.

While thinking about some things we could do I remembered making sun prints when I was a kid.

It was an easy and fascinating project; one that was perfect for a summer day.

So, we combined a little science with a little art and made sun prints.

Let’s gather our supplies to do this fun STEM project.

Combine art and science with this fun Sun Prints STEAM activity that uses the power of the sun to make art. It's a fun project for a sunny day!

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Supplies Needed:

Dark, bright colored construction paper (red, orange, blue, or black would work perfectly)
Pennies
Tape
Lots of sunshine

Combine art and science with this fun Sun Prints STEAM activity that uses the power of the sun to make art. It's a fun project for a sunny day!

Make your sun prints

Find a nice sunny spot to work on your project. Once you’ve arranged your coins, you will not want to move your paper until your project is complete, so choose wisely.

We chose a spot in our backyard that had sunshine for many hours during the day.

If the day is windy, you will want to tape your paper down so that it won’t blow away. We made the mistake of not taping ours down and had to go rescue our pennies halfway through the project. Let me tell you, pennies are hard to find in a grassy lawn!

Combine art and science with this fun Sun Prints STEAM activity that uses the power of the sun to make art. It's a fun project for a sunny day!

Arrange your pennies in a pretty design on the paper. Then, don’t move them for several hours. Create a pretty design, try to write a word, or make a simple picture.

Observe the process

Make some observations along the way. Is your paper getting darker or lighter? What do you think is happening underneath the pennies? Touch a penny. How does it feel?

Combine art and science with this fun Sun Prints STEAM activity that uses the power of the sun to make art. It's a fun project for a sunny day!

We left our paper outside for 8 hours. You don’t have to leave it out as long as we did, but the longer the sun shines on your paper, the more contrast you’ll have on your design.

The first thing we noticed on our design was that our paper was a lot lighter than when we first brought it out.

Combine art and science with this fun Sun Prints STEAM activity that uses the power of the sun to make art. It's a fun project for a sunny day!

Next we started removing our pennies and saw the design form right before our eyes.

The paper underneath stayed dark because the pennies blocked the paper-fading UV rays of the sun, a process described as “really cool” by my girls.

Combine art and science with this fun Sun Prints STEAM activity that uses the power of the sun to make art. It's a fun project for a sunny day!

Here’s a close-up of one of the pictures. If you can’t tell, it’s a girl with long pigtails standing on the ground.

Have you ever made sun prints? It’s a fun experiment to show just how powerful the sun’s rays are.

Combine art and science with this fun Sun Prints STEAM activity that uses the power of the sun to make art. It's a fun project for a sunny day!

Make this a family adventure:

Cost: Free (Minimal cost to purchase construction paper if you don’t already have some)

Prep time: Minimal time needed to gather materials.

Ages: Preschool (3-4) and up.

Time needed: 30 minutes plus time in the sun.

Watch the weather forecast for a sunny day. You don’t want to do this project on a cloudy or very windy day. Also, you want to make sure you have plenty of change for everyone. Raid your pockets & purse. If you don’t have enough, collect your change for a few days. Do the project early in the day, so you can come back after several hours to check on your projects.

You may also like one of these summer fun ideas:

Top 10 Simple Summer Field Trips

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Terri is a writer and mom of two elementary-aged girls. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for ways to make learning fun. You can find her at Better Than Homework where she shares fun learning activities or Creative Family Fun where she shares art, craft, and family fun ideas.

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