School level

Be Sun Smart and Protect Your Skin

Playing and spending time outdoors is good for your students but it is important to protect their skin when outside in the sun. Protect yourself and your students by following and promoting the SunSmart guide to protecting skin and eyes.

  • Slip on clothing that covers your skin such as long sleeves or collared t-shirts.
  • Slop on sunscreen on exposed areas using factor 30+ for adults and 50+ for children.
  • Slap on a wide-brimmed hat
  • Seek shade - especially if outdoors between 11am and 3pm and always use a sunshade on a child’s buggy.
  • Slide on sunglasses to protect your eyes.

    Know the UV Index

    The UV index tells us what level of UV radiation is reaching the earth's surface. It ranges from zero to 11+. The higher the UV index, the greater the risk of skin and eye damage and the less time it takes for harm to occur.

    In Ireland, the UV index is usually 3 or above from April to September, even when it is cloudy. Stay safe by limiting time in the sun when UV is strongest, typically between the hours of 11am to 3pm.

    Classroom Activities:

    UV and Human Health

    Getting too much sun can be harmful whatever your age. It exposes your skin to ultra violet radiation (UV rays) that can damage your skin and lead to skin cancer. With good protection against UV rays, most cases of skin cancer could be avoided.

    This doesn’t mean you have to avoid the sun completely. Sun exposure is the best natural source of vitamin D and is important for general health. You can still go for walks, enjoy the garden and get involved in all of the things you enjoy doing outdoors. Just make sure to think about how you will protect your skin when outside.
    Source: Irish Cancer Society

    Classroom Activities:

    • Debunk the myths about skin care, sun protection, and sun-beds using a walking debate. 
    • Discuss how ultraviolet rays affect your health using this collaborative diamond activity.
    • Download the SunSmart code poster for your classroom. Using the poster as a guide, get your class to create a SunSmart brochure for their family.
    • Assign this NCCA task on UV light and Human Health. Students will need to research one of the questions given and present their findings in a report for their school magazine. Example OneExample Two

    What is UV Radiation?


     Classroom Activities:

    Detecting Ultraviolet Light

    Ultraviolet light is invisible to the human eye but you can still detect it. Science on Stage Ireland has produced a demonstration guide for detecting ultraviolet light using tonic water. The tonic fluoresces bright blue in the presence of ultraviolet light. A component of tonic water (quinine) absorbs the ultraviolet light energy, electrons in its atoms become excited--that is, their energy level increases.

    Source: © Science on Stage

    Classroom Activities:

    Experiment on UV Protection

    The Royal Society of Chemistry held a global experiment on UV protection called Starlight. The Starlight resource material is still available. The experiments can be run consecutively or individually. They have been designed to challenge all ages and abilities with all resources being easily sourced and affordable. Each experiment can be completed in an hour-long lesson but can also be extended. Teacher GuideUV Colour Chart

    Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

    Extend your Knowledge

    Lesson One

    Lesson One - introduces students to the electromagnetic spectrum, in particular to the ultraviolet radiation section of the spectrum.

    Lesson Two

    Lesson Two - explores the function of the skin in protecting us against harmful UV rays.

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