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Solar Relay

In this team relay activity students will decide which objects help protect them from the sun and which objects do not.

Many animals, like chimpanzees, avoid the peak hours of the sun—most of their activities are in the early morning and late afternoon. In another strategy to avoid the sun, Rhinos use mud as a natural sun block. These animals roll in the mud to thickly coat themselves and protect their skins from the sun. Hippos do not use mud, their skin secretes an oily natural "sunscreen."

The sun is very powerful, and avoiding it is not always possible. Since humans do not bathe in mud or produce natural sunscreen, how can we protect ourselves from too much sun? 


  • List objects that successfully protect against UV radiation.


  • Per Group:
    sun-safe items (long-sleeve t-shirts, hats, fans, water bottles, sunscreen)
    other items (warm toques, short-sleeve t-shirts, hats without a brim)

Key Questions

  • Do we need to be sun-safe year-round?
  • Does shadow protect from the sun? Do clouds? Do the Ultraviolet rays penetrate either?

What To Do

  1. Organize the class into two or three teams of five or more students and line the teams up on one side of the room.
  2. Across the room, place a set of items (including sun-safe and other clothes) for each team.
  3. Chose a model from each team to stand near the clothes.
  4. Team members take turns running to the pile, selecting a sun-safe item, dressing the model and then returning to tag the next team member.
  5. The first team to correctly dress their model and be sitting down in their original line up is the winner.


  • How does sunscreen work?
  • Does sunscreen work as well as wearing clothing?