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Hat Day

Science Lesson
for Hat Day

The students will discuss the reasons people wear hats and conduct an experiment on shadows.


  • Chart paper or a blackboard
  • A strong flashlight (the bigger the better)  If the teacher is going to do a demonstration, only one flashlight is needed.  If the class will break out into groups, there will need to be one flashlight per group.
  • An opaque object, such as a block or a counting bear  (If possible, a small hat would be ideal to keep with the theme.)  Once again the number of objects needed depends on whether this will be a demonstration or done in groups.
  • Shadow Worksheet (Has been formatted to be cut in half.)



  1. Facilitate a discussion on why people wear hats.  Emphasize the three physical reasons of
    1) protection from injury
    2) to keep warm
    3) for sun protection.
    List these on chart paper or the blackboard.
  2. Go in to greater discussion on how the brim of a hat makes a shadow on the face, protecting it from the sun. 
  3. Conduct an experiment on the length of shadows in relation to a light source.  For this experiment the room will need to be darkened as much as possible. 
  4. Have a discussion on how a shadow is made.  An object must block the light source, thus creating a shadow.  Relate this to the brim of a hat blocking the sun's rays from hitting one's face. 
  5. Gather the students around.  Discuss how, due to the earth's rotation, the sun appears to move across the sky during the day.  We begin with a sunrise low in the sky, at noon the sun is high over head, and then the day ends with the sun low in the sky once again. 
  6. While holding the chosen opaque object low and fairly close to the ground, move the flashlight in an arch shape over the object.  Start out low and close to the ground, then move it up so it's directly over the object, and complete the arch down the other side. 
  7. Ask the students what happens to the shadow as the light source is in a different position.  When is the shadow it's longest?  When is it it's shortest?  Relate these answers to the brim of a hat.  Have a student put a brimmed hat on and move the light source over his/her head from front to back.  Does the brim work when the light source is low and pointed toward the face of the student?  When does the brim make the biggest shadow on the student's face?
  8. Allow older students to break out into groups, with the needed materials, and experiment with the light and shadow on their own.
  9. Have the students complete the short Shadow Worksheet as a wrap-up.


Other Lesson Ideas

  1. Conduct a lesson on Bicycle Helmet Safety.  Use the following link for games, activities, and lesson plan ideas http://www.bikehelmet.org/.
  2. Have a lesson on sun safety.  Use one of  the following links for information Sun And Beach Safety Tips, or Sun And Safety For Kids.


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