Kid Stuff

Family STEAM Challenge: Melting Crayons

harness the sun’s power to make some art

Sarah Zwiefelhofer |

The sun is out, so we should be, too. Let’s harness the sun’s heat power and make some art!

This Issue’s STEAM Topic:

Exploring and observing the science behind using the sun’s heat to warm up rocks and melt crayons to make art.

The Mission:

Use your scientific and detective skills to figure out the best way to capture the sun’s powerful heat.

The Challenge:

How can you heat up rocks enough in the sunshine to melt crayons onto the rocks?

Materials You Could Use (but are not limited to):
  • Rocks
  • Crayons
  • Paper

This challenge is very open-ended as it can be applied whenever and wherever the materials are available.

This experiment can take place on a sunny day or on a cloudy day. This is a great way to help understand how the sun’s rays can get through the clouds and why we need to wear sunscreen every day!

To start, find smooth rocks. These can be large or small, but the larger the better. Then place them where they can absorb the heat from the sun. Leave them outside for at least an hour, but the longer the better. Once the rocks are warm, take a crayon and start to draw or write on the rock. The rock should be warm enough to melt the crayon, so the drawing is more like a painting.

Once you are done creating your artwork, move the rock into the shade or into a cool area. Let the crayon on the rock re-harden and you will have a beautifully painted rock! You can also use the painted rock to color on a piece of paper after it has hardened.

Questions to Mull Over:
  • Can you heat up a rock on a cloudy day?
  • Do smaller or larger rocks heat up faster?
  • Can you mix colors to create new ones?

The Family STEAM Challenge is all about experimenting with the ordinary to make the extraordinary! Chippewa Valley Family challenges your family to think and play together all in the name of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (that’s where the STEAM comes in).

Each challenge can be completed as a family or a group of friends in as little or as much time needed; however, most challenges can be completed within one sitting. The Family STEAM Challenge is also designed to get all ages involved through hands-on experimenting.

Thank you to Sarah McInnis with the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire for making this STEAM challenge possible!