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Why is the sky blue? Answers for inquiring minds.
Category: Science
Tags: why is the sky blue?

As homeschooling parents, our days are often filled with questions, questions, so many questions!  This collection of free resources will help you answer some of the more common ones (especially when the short answers do not suffice): 

Why is the sky blue?  The short answer: Light is made up of multiple colors (wavelengths). Light from the sun coming through the atmosphere gets scattered. For a better explanation: Watch this 3-minute Ask an Astronomer video which talks about wavelengths, and also tells why sunsets are red, and how scientists use these principles about light to study planets. Explore further using a glass, flashlight, a little milk, and a white surface to simulate how air molecules affect light wavelengths. 

What makes a rainbow? The short answer: Light is made up of multiple colors (wavelengths). Raindrops cause light to reflect and refract creating dispersion of light. For a longer explanation: Little kids may like watching this animated video from HooplaKidz TV which provides a simple explanation. At WeatherWizKids, you can read about double rainbows, upside down rainbows, and finding the end of a rainbow. Explore further with this WikiHow article that shows 6 ways to make your own rainbow: using a glass, a mirror, a CD, a flashlight, a water hose, and a pressure washer wand. (Okay, that last one you may not have on hand). 

How do airplanes stay in the air? The short answer: A balance of lift, weight, thrust and drag. For a better explanation: Watch this Naked Science Scrapbook video which nicely illustrates the concepts. Explore further with these Fun With Bernoulli experiments to demonstrate air pressure and how it relates to airplane flight. 

Why does the moon sometimes appear during the daytime? The short answer: The moon is always there, of course; we see it because it is being lit by the sun. For a better explanation: Try this short Wonderopolis article. And here's a cool lunar phase simulatorExplore further with these activities for simulating the phases of the moon using styrofoam balls and a lamp; and, of course, using oreo cookies. Incorporate some language arts into your moon studies with these moon phrases -- idiomatic expressions using the word moon.  

How much does the earth weigh? The short answer: Technically, the earth doesn’t weigh anything. Weight is defined as a measure of the earth's gravitational pull on another mass. The question should be what is earth’s mass? For a better explanation, watch this BrainStuff video which provides an answer, along with how it was figured out in the first place. Explore further: Watch two astronauts aboard the International Space Station explain the difference between weight and mass, and see them demonstrate the effects of low gravity. And here’s an animated lesson on weight versus mass.

FYI: If you subscribe to Discovery Education, you can type these questions into the search box and pull up the site's own playlists of videos, animations and text for answering these questions.

What are some questions your kids have asked you? Leave a comment sharing the resources you used to give them answers.



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