Solar for Kids: How to Talk with Kids about Solar

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After nearly ten years as a solar advisor and meeting with hundreds of homeowners and their kids, I’ve learned a few fun tricks on how to talk with kids about solar. Here is a story that you can read with your kids that introduces them to solar.

One bright Wednesday morning, Janey came down the stairs to eat breakfast before leaving for school. Her mom was sitting at the breakfast nook reading a brochure with big yellow letters across the front “Solar For Your Home!” She said to herself “I’ve heard about solar before, but, what does it really do?” She shrugged her shoulders. Then she asked,  “Mom, what’s solar?”,

Mom smiled. “So, you know how plants get their food from the sun, right?”

“Yeah, I learned that in school,” Janey answered.


“Well, that’s solar power. Those little plants are harnessing the energy from the sun to make food for themselves.

Image result for photosynthesis


And remember last summer when we went to the beach and your uncle Ta’von got a sunburn?”

“Yeah, I remember that. He was soooo mad,” Janey remembered, laughing. “He kept saying, “Real men don’t wear sunscreen!” Janey and Mom giggled together.

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“See, that’s solar power too!” Mom added. “In fact, the sun’s energy does a lot of cool things. You can use it to heat hot water for your home, or even create electricity! This brochure,” she said, holding up the brochure on solar in her hand,” is about putting solar electric panels on our home. You see, so many things use electricity; the lights, refrigerator, TV, and especially your tablet! And that power doesn’t grow on trees, my dear. It falls from the sky,” she quipped playfully. “Solar panels turn the sun’s energy into electricity the same way plants use it to make food. Do you remember what your teacher said it’s called when a plant uses the sun’s energy for food?”

“Photosynthesis!” Janey quickly answered.

“Correct! Now, when you turn the sun’s energy into electricity that is called photovoltaic solar. Can you say that, ‘pho·to·vol·ta·ic’?”

“Photovoltaic”, Janey repeated, counting the syllables on her fingers as her Mom had.

“Perfect!” Mom exclaimed giving her daughter a peck on the cheek. “You are such a smart girl! Here’s another one…Think of taking a picture. We call that a pho-to….”

Image result for stack of pictures


“…graph!” Janey confidently answered with a grin.

“Right again! The word ‘photo’ means ‘light.’  So, whether we are harnessing the sun’s energy for a plant or electricity, we are using light.  The second half of photovoltaic is -‘voltatic’, meaning voltage or volts. Can you think of anything that uses volts?”

Looking down, Janey paused for a second, thinking hard before smiling, “Ummmm…. Oh, I know! A car battery.”

“That’s my brilliant baby. Yes, a car uses a 12 volt battery. Putting all the parts together, photovoltaic means voltage from the sun. And when that photovoltaic energy hits a solar panel, it creates power for a home to use.

Sometimes people just refer to photovoltaic solar as PV solar .”

Wiping her forehead, Janey replied “Whoo, PV solar, that’s a lot easier to say.”

“I agree.” Mom playfully raised one eyebrow and asked Janey, “but can you still say the word that PV stands for?”

Janey became still, looking scared and confused. She stared at her Mom for a moment before cracking a big smile, “Just kidding,” she said, “photovoltaic.” Mom gave Janey a big hug, picking her up off the ground. Janey ran back to finish making her breakfast.

I have had different versions of this conversation with kids of all ages, and it’s always been educational and fun. I hope you enjoyed this little story and I hope this can be a good introduction to solar for your children.

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