June At-Home STEAM Activity: Solar Science

Materials (Per Child):

  • Different colored square pieces of paper
  • 6 ice cubes


  1. Ahead of time: Make small ice cubes, enough for each child to have 6.
  2. Put one ice cube on each color and place them all in the sun. Make sure all the ice cubes are exposed to FULL sunlight.
  3. Observe as the ice cubes melt – which melts the fastest and which melts the slowest? On warm days, stay and watch. On colder days, come back and check the experiment in 10 minutes.

Questions to Ask:

During set up:

  • Which ice cube do you think will melt the most quickly/slowly? Why?
  • How will you know that the ice cube is melting?

When checking the progress:

  • Which card is warmest/coolest?
  • Which ice cube is melting the quickest/slowest? How can you tell?
  • What would happen if you used food dyes to make colored ice cubes and tried the experiment again?

What is Happening?

The ice on the black card will melt quickly, as it absorbs the most light. It is the most efficient solar heat collector. The ice on the white card will melt slowly since it reflects most of the light. The other colors absorb all the light EXCEPT the ONE they reflect; this is the color that they appear to us.

What This Teaches:

Patience, observation, relationship between color and the sun.