DIY Sun Science

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
DIY Sun Science App Poster Image
Spark kids' interest with excellent, free astronomy tool.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational value

Kids can learn just about anything they want to know about the sun. The hands-on activities are a great learning approach since kids tend to remember more by doing, and the follow-up explanations do a fantastic job of explaining the science behind the activities. By completing the activities and watching the videos, kids can learn about a wide range of topics including solar storms, solar flares, the sun's diameter, ultraviolet light, solar energy, and much more. DIY Sun Science is an excellent, free reference tool that inspires kids as they learn about the sun.

Ease of play

There is a lot of information to take in, but tapping and scrolling through the app is easy, and the activities are extremely well organized. 

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

There are links to contributors' websites on the credits page. 

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that DIY Sun Science is an interactive reference tool that teaches kids about the sun. It contains hands-on activities, gorgeous images and videos, and a live sun cam. Each of the activities includes a summary, a materials list, step-by-step instructions, and a follow-up explanation. Most activities will likely require adult assistance and supervision. Kids will enjoy the videos and animations, and checking out the live images of the sun in the observatory will inspire astronomers of all ages. 

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What's it about?

DIY SUN SCIENCE is a free, NASA-funded reference tool that is packed with information about the sun. Kids can tap to explore three different areas within the app: Activities, Images and Videos, or the Sun Observatory. There are more than a dozen hands-on activities, and each one is organized into sections that make it easy to plan and conduct the activity. The summary section gives an overview of the activity's objective, age-level appropriateness, and a breakdown of the time required for preparation, activity completion, and cleanup. The materials section includes a bulleted materials list and any applicable safety precautions. The instructions section includes step-by-step instructions, along with pictures. And the explanation section explains the science behind the activity, includes links to related videos from the app, and occasionally offers an extension activity. The images and videos page includes an image gallery and several videos that teach kids more detailed information about the sun. The sun observatory shows live images of the sun from a NASA satellite. Kids can move a slider to compare images, and then tap the learn button to read more about the sun. There is also a puzzle button that challenges kids to match images of the sun with the correct term.

Is it any good?

DIY Sun Science is a great way to spark interest in astronomy and inspire learning. The activities are fun and engaging, and they tie in nicely with important astronomy concepts. Completing them takes a bit of effort outside of the app, but the activities are very well organized and require materials that can typically be found around the house. Many of the images and videos are stunning, and most of them relate in some way to the hands-on activities. Kids will likely find the sun observatory an exciting feature as they view real, live images of the sun from a NASA satellite. It would be nice if there were some quizzes or activities that kids could complete to apply what they learned. Still, this free reference tool is an excellent addition to any virtual science library. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Choose an activity each week and help kids gather the materials and complete the steps. Discuss the information on the explanation page following each activity. 

  • Use the sun observatory each day for at least two weeks. Discuss any changes in the images. 

  • If possible, visit a local science museum or planetarium and talk about how using the app helped prepare for the visit. 

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For kids who love science

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