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Solar Bag Science Experiment
Without the sun, we wouldn’t have life on Earth, but it’s not always easy to show young scientists the incredible power of the sun. That’s where the Solar Bag from Steve Spangler Science can help.
The Solar Bag is a unique and gigantic teaching tool. This balloon harnesses solar energy to expand up to 25 feet when inflated and float into the air. It truly is a sight to behold as a giant, black balloon tube lifts off the ground using nothing but sunshine. Your students will be amazed by the Solar Bag and you’ll delight in their wide eyes and desire to learn more.
Don’t settle for imitation solar bags that are only 10 feet. Let’s be honest — these don’t work as well. The Solar Bag from Steve Spangler Science is a whole 25 feet long and is super easy to work with. Simply tie off one end of the bag and fill the Solar Bag with air by running with the open end in hand. Once the Solar Bag is full of air, you’ll tie off the open end and watch as the heat from the sun causes the air inside to expand. Within minutes, the enormous Solar Bag rises into the sky and floats like a giant sausage.
The material that Solar Bags are made of has to be thin to enable the sun-powered flight, so be careful during your experiments. Should the material tear, packing or masking tape will fix it right up, so that you can use the bag again and again.
• Two Solar Bags that are 25 feet (7.62 meters) long
• 400 feet (122 meters) of Solar Bag String
• Activity guide with student worksheets
What Does It Teach?
The energy harnessed in the Solar Bag comes straight from the sun, but we can’t see it. The Solar Bag has a multitude of scientific applications — start by teaching students how energy from the sun causes air to up heat and expand, especially when amplified by the black surface of the Solar Bag. Teachers and students can engage in further discussions inspired by our Solar Bag about density, air pressure, buoyancy and convection.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does It Work?
After rolling out the bag and tying one of the ends, you have to run around and fill the bag with air. Once it is full, tie the other end so that air can’t escape and watch the power of the sun at work! The solar energy will heat up the air inside the bag causing the molecules to move around and bump into all sides of the solar bag and make it rise!
How much weight will it lift off the ground?
The solar bag is not intended to lift any weight while it rises.
How high can it float?
The sky’s the limit on this one. We have let a solar bag or two go and its been observed by satellites at over 120,000 feet in the air!! This is the main reason that it is best to have some string attached so that you can inflate it, watch it float, and bring it back in order to use it time and time again.
Does it have to be a hot day?
The best environment for the solar bag activity is to have the sun shining with a cool temperature. You want the air inside of the bag to be able to heat up from where it originally was so that it can rise.
How many times can you use it?
The solar bag is made out of a light weight plastic material and will tear easily. If you are gentle with it, you may be able to use it several times.