SPF Science Experiment

Sun Protection Science Experiment for Kids: Ages 5+

sunscreen spf science experiment

There are so many different sunscreens available with different Sun Protection Factors (SPF). What SPF lotion really works to keep out the sun’s harmful UV rays?

Vocabulary:

  • UV
  • SPF
  • Sun Block
  • Sun Protection

Materials

 Sunscreen of varying strengths
 Construction paper

Directions

  1. Fold the construction paper in half, lengthwise.
  2. At the top of one side, write “Sunscreen,” and at the top of the other, write “No Sunscreen.”
  3. On the side marked “Sunscreen,” let your child create a design out of the sunscreen, using either their fingers or a paintbrush.
  4. Leave the other side blank.
  5. Set the paper outside in the sun for a couple of hours; you might need to tape it down, or use rocks to hold it down, so it won’t blow away.
  6. In a couple of hours, go see what happened.
  7. Do this with different strengths of SPF, to see how they protect our skin.

What’s Happening?

Construction paper is notorious for bleaching out in sunlight, rather quickly, so it’s great for this experiment. The side with no sunscreen will bleach considerably, even in an hour. Yet, the sunscreen design will stay vibrant.
The sun’s UV rays bleach the paper, yet the ingredients in the sunscreen protect the color, allowing the design to show through. The same idea goes for our skin; the sunscreen protects the UV rays from damaging our skin.
This is a simple way to help show children the importance of using sunscreen when outside.
**Try doing this on a cloudy day, as well. UV rays penetrate through cloud cover, and they can still cause sunburns and skin damage, even though the sun is not visible.

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