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Standards

This is an H3

Sun safety education can be woven into existing lesson plans that address content standards. While teaching content for the standards below, teachers can also integrate short lessons about sun safety.  Below you will find the sections of the Science Education Standards for Colorado Public Schools in which sun safety lessons could be included.  Following each standard are recommendations from Sun Safe Colorado on how to incorporate sun safety into each grade level’s specific teaching points.

STANDARD 2:Students know and understand common properties, forms, and changes in matter and energy. (Focus: Physics and Chemistry)

STANDARD 3: Life Science: Students know and understand the characteristics and structure of living things, the processes of life, and how living things interact with each other and their environment. (Focus: Biology-- Anatomy, Physiology, Botany, Zoology, Ecology)

STANDARD 4: Earth and Space Science: Students know and understand the processes and interactions of Earth's systems and the structure and dynamics of Earth and other objects in space. (Focus: Geology, Meteorology, Astronomy, Oceanography)

STANDARD 5: Students know and understand interrelationships among science, technology, and human activity and how they can affect the world.

STANDARD 6: Students understand that science involves a particular way of knowing and understand common connections among scientific disciplines.


STANDARD 2: Physical Science: Students know and understand common properties, forms, and changes in matter and energy. (Focus: Physics and Chemistry)

2.2 Students know that energy appears in different forms, and can move (be transferred) and change (be transformed).

Grades K-4

Students can see one kind of energy that comes from the Sun to Earth in the form of light.  Another kind of energy that comes along with visible light from the sun is ultraviolet light. UV is invisible, but its effects can be seen with UV cards or beads that change color with exposure to UV rays. Include a discussion about how some energy from the sun helps plants make energy, while some exposure can cause damage to our skin.
Light has a source and travels in a direction so sunlight can be blocked to create shadows. Blocking visible light also means blocking UV rays. Talk about how shadows are made by blocking sunlight. These shadows create shade, the safest place for students to play during the day. Students can also block sunlight from reaching their skin by wearing cover-up clothing and wearing sunscreen.

Grades 5-8

Solar energy reaches Earth through radiation, mostly in the form of visible light. Ultraviolet light has a slightly shorter wavelength than visible light and is directly adjacent to visible violet light on the electromagnetic energy spectrum. Within the UV spectrum, there are different types of UV light. UVA is not absorbed by the stratospheric ozone (O3) layer, UVB is mostly absorbed, and UVC is completely absorbed. The UVA and UVB rays that do make it to earth are capable of damaging skin. Sunburns and tans are the most immediate response of the skin to skin damage, but wrinkling, cataracts and even decreased immune system are also results.

Grades 9-12

Waves have characteristic properties and carry energy from one place to another. Ultraviolet rays are an example of an electromagnetic wave. UV rays can be transmitted from the sun, through the vacuum of space, to earth. UV rays are just outside of the visible spectrum of light waves, but evidence that they exist can be seen in the manifestation of sunburns and tans. Later in life, the damage can also appear as wrinkled skin, premature aging, cataracts, and even skin cancer. To protect their bodies from excessive UV radiation, mention the need for cover-up clothing, seeking out shade when they are outdoors and using sunscreen.

2.3 Students understand that interactions can produce changes in a system, although the total quantities of matter and energy remain unchanged.

Grades 9-12

Heat energy is also transferred between objects by radiation (radiation can travel through space). Another example of energy transfer through radiation can be evidenced in sunburns. Most students understand that they do not need to touch the sun to get a sunburn. In fact, they are burned not by the radiation of heat from the sun, but by the radiation of ultraviolet. Ultraviolet radiation does not carry heat, but carries the energy necessary to damage skin as evidenced by sunburn and later in life by wrinkles, cataracts or even skin cancer.

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STANDARD 3: Life Science: Students know and understand the characteristics and structure of living things, the processes of life, and how living things interact with each other and their environment. (Focus: Biology-- Anatomy, Physiology, Botany, Zoology, Ecology)

3.2 Students know and understand interrelationships of matter and energy in living systems.

Grades K-4

While discussing the benefits of the sun, make sure to mention that it can sometimes cause harm.  Encourage students to wear sun protective clothing, sunscreen, and seek shade when the UV index is above 3.

Grades 5-8

While studying the process of photosynthesis and the benefits of sunlight to all organisms in the food chain, discuss the detriments of sunlight too.  Too much sun can cause skin damage and skin cancer.  Just two blistering sunburns before the age of 18 can nearly double a student’s risk of developing skin cancer.

Grades 9-12

Energy that comes from the sun provides many beneficial components for life on earth. The sun’s energy provides energy for green plants (via photosynthesis), and green plants feed animals.  Energy that comes from the sun can also contain harmful components like ultraviolet light.  Ultraviolet helps skin synthesize Vitamin D, but it can also cause sun burn, skin damage and skin cancer.  While teaching about the benefits of the sun, mention ways (like wearing cover-up clothing, sunscreen, and seeking shade) that students can protect themselves from the sun’s harms.

3.3 Students know and understand how the human body functions, factors that influence its structures and functions, and how these structures and functions compare with those of other organisms.

Grades K-4

While describing the skin, discuss ways to keep it in the best shape it can be.  Most students know that sun burns hurt and show that skin has been damaged, but sun tans show that the skin has been damaged as well.  Discuss ways that students can keep the biggest organ of their body healthy: wear cover up clothing, seek shade, avoid mid-day sun and wear sunscreen.

Grades 9-12

Discuss cellular organization, including the DNA. When DNA is damaged by carcinogens like ultraviolet rays, cancer causing mutations can result. Protect against these preventable medical problems by wearing cover-up clothing, seeking shade, avoiding mid-day sun and wearing sunscreen.

3.4 Students know and understand how organisms change over time in terms of biological evolution and genetics.

Grades 9-12

Some traits can be inherited through genetics.  Some of these genetic traits like fair hair, fair skin and blue eyes do not cause cancer but may make people more susceptible to some kinds of carcinogens like ultraviolet (UV) light.  People with these traits have less melanin (a pigment found in skin that absorbs UV) which makes them more susceptible to skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.

Some studies suggest that people with low melanin may have developed this trait in order to adapt to areas with low UV due to northern location and dense cloud cover.  In order for the skin to synthesize Vitamin D in low UV areas, skin must be able to absorb ultraviolet light and must therefore have less UV absorbing melanin.  Now that people whose ancestors had adapted to living in low UV areas are living in high UV areas, people with these traits need to be particularly careful to reduce overexposure to UV rays.

For students continuing their science education beyond the standards, what they know and are able to do may include:

UV can be absorbed by cellular DNA in exposed skin cells and can catalyze formation of pyrimidine cyclobutane dimers (thymine dimers).  When DNA replication is carried out on the DNA strand carrying the dimers, the dimers can be read incorrectly by DNA polymerase and an incorrect base can be substituted (GC-to-AT transition mutation).  Most errors in replication are repaired, but some are not. If a mutation occurs and is not repaired, cancer is a possible outcome. 

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STANDARD 4: Earth and Space Science: Students know and understand the processes and interactions of Earth's systems and the structure and dynamics of Earth and other objects in space. (Focus: Geology, Meteorology, Astronomy, Oceanography)

4.2 Students know and understand the general characteristics of the atmosphere and fundamental processes of weather.

Grades K-4

The sun warms the land, air and water. While observing what kind of weather makes the earth warm or cool, also study the kind of weather that increases or decreases UV rays. The change in UV level of a sunny or cloudy day can be demonstrated using UV cards or beads that change color when exposed to UV rays.  Students can also study the Environmental Protection Agency’s UV index over a number of days.

Changes in weather occur from day to day and across seasons, affecting Earth and its inhabitants. Talk to students about how the sun can damage skin. Talking about skin cancer may scare children, but most children can identify with the pain of a sunburn. Just like they change clothes depending on how the weather changes, they can wear different clothes to protect themselves from the sun. Weather observations might include looking at the EPA’s UV Index. Students can understand that on days with a high number, they need to be more aware of wearing sun protective clothing.

Grades 5-8

Students can learn about the structure of the atmosphere, including stratospheric ozone that absorbs all UV-C rays and most UV-B rays.  Students can observe how changing weather affects the UV index and that temperature and UV index are not dependant on one another.

Grades 9-12

Students can learn about the structure of the atmosphere, including stratospheric ozone that absorbs all UV-C rays and most UV-B rays.  The ozone layer is currently being depleted largely because of human actions.  Students can discuss the significance of this change for life on Earth.  Students can plot changes in the UV Index and learn how it is calculated on the Environmental Protection Agency website.

4.4 Students know the structure of the solar system, composition and interactions of objects in the universe, and how space is explored.

Grades K-4

The position of the Sun in the sky changes during the course of the day and from season to season.  As the angle of the Earth to the sun changes with the seasons, the UV exposure of your city also changes. UV exposure is less during the winter in the northern hemisphere because the Earth tilts farther away from the sun. It is still important for students to take caution no matter what season it is. Throughout the year, students can track the UV Index through seasons to observe the difference in UV exposure based on the angle of the Earth on its axis

Grades 5-8

The position of the Sun in the sky changes during the course of the day and from season to season.  As the angle of the Earth to the sun changes with the seasons, the UV exposure of your city also changes. UV exposure is less during the winter in the northern hemisphere because the Earth tilts farther away from the sun. It is still important for students to take caution no matter what season it is. Throughout the year, students can track the UV Index through seasons to observe the difference in UV exposure based on the angle of the Earth on its axis.

Grades 9-12

Students can model how the angle of the Earth and Sun causes varied lengths of days and seasons.  Describe how the Sun produces electromagnetic radiation, including ultraviolet. Discuss how the seasons affect the UV Index (the amount of UV rays forecast to reach the Earth each day.)

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STANDARD 5: Students know and understand interrelationships among science, technology, and human activity and how they can affect the world.

Grades K-4

The Sun provides energy to plants on Earth which in turn provides energy to animals, including humans.  The sun also produces ultraviolet rays which can harm humans so students should be aware of using cover up clothing, sunscreen, seeking shade and avoiding mid-day hours when they are outdoors.  Human actions also affect the Earth.  For insistence, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) and other air pollution have damaged the stratospheric ozone layer which helps filter out harmful ultraviolet radiation.  Students can discuss what they can do to help their local and global communities.

Grades 5-8

Pollution mostly due to chlorofluorocarbons used as aerosol propellants and refrigerants in the 1970s and 1980s has damaged the ozone layer—responsible for absorbing UVC and UVB radiation. Discuss the effect that UV radiation has on animals and plants. In animals, including humans, increased exposure to UV radiation results in an increased risk of skin cancer. While we can make environmental changes to decrease the disappearance of the ozone layer, students should also take personal precautions like wearing cover-up clothing, sunglasses, sunscreen and seeking shade against excessive UV radiation.

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STANDARD 6: Students understand that science involves a particular way of knowing and understand common connections among scientific disciplines.

Grades 9-12

Discuss the pictures seen in the media of tan and un-tanned actresses and actors.  Compare these images with images from the early 1900’s when tans were not desirable.  Discuss why many people think tanned skin conveys an image of health when in reality tan skin shows that the skin has been damaged.  Students can also discuss the effect of tanning bed advertisements in school newspapers. 

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