Stella and Stanley Study the Sun (Grade 2 Reading Level)
“Hi everybody, welcome back! If you don’t know me, my name is Stella. I’m Flat Stanley’s friend and we’re excited to explore with you.”
“Stella, I think we should tell them what happened yesterday at the playground,” said Stanley.
“That is a great idea, because many of our adventures are outside,” agreed Stella.
Stanley nodded. “Our poor friend Samson. I hope he learned how not to get sunburned again.”
“I hope so, too,” said Stella. “Samson helped us learn a lot about the sun, didn’t he?”
“He did,” agreed Stanley. “Let’s share our latest adventure with our new friends.”
A few days ago, a student named Star brought her Stanley and Stella to school to play with them outside during recess. She read the story about Yellowstone and learned that the environment was all around – even on the playground!
While Star was looking for bugs on a nearby tree, her friend Samson came over to see what she was doing.
Before Samson could even say hello, Star said in surprise, “Samson! What is on your face?”
It was hard to see, but Samson still blushed through the white paste. “Oh, this? It’s sunscreen. My mom said I have to be more careful when I go outside, and I need to use it.”
“What do you have to be more careful about?” Star asked.
“Sunburns,” said Samson. “If you stay outside too long without sunscreen, it can burn you.”
Star looked surprised. “I thought the sun was really far away.”
Samson nodded his head. “I thought so, too. I don’t know anything about the sun or how it can burn you, but I can tell you it happens! Let’s ask our teacher if she knows more.”
Star and Samson went to find their teacher, to ask what she knew about the sun.
Their teacher, Mrs. Ray, said, “Maybe Stella and Stanley can help us. I know just the place to send them to find out more.”
“Where is that?” asked Samson and Star.
“A place called NASA. They study our Earth and space, and they even study the sun,” said Mrs. Ray. “I have an envelope and a stamp in the classroom. We can mail them today!”
A few days later, Stella and Stanley arrived at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. They were greeted by Alex, a scientist who studies the sun.
“Hi Alex. We have been sent to learn about how the sun gets here, when it is so far away from Earth. Can you help us?” asked Stella.
“I would be happy to! I study the sun,” said Alex. “Here we have special equipment that helps us look more closely at the sun than we can with our own eyes. Here is our spacecraft that helps us look at the sun.”
Alex also showed Stella and Stanley that they could build one too, with legos!
“This can take pictures for us. Here is one of my favorites,” said Alex.
“That looks so cool! I mean, I guess hot right?” Stanley joked.
“It sure is,” laughed Alex. “In this picture, you can see some activity and light from the surface of the sun – more than you could ever see with your eyes.”
“That almost looks like the rays of sunshine I like to draw. Is the sun bigger than our Earth?” asked Stella.
“Yes! It is a lot bigger. Take a look at this picture. If the sun were a basketball, our big Earth would be this small dot!” Alex showed them.
“Did you know that the sun is 93 million miles away?” asked Alex.
Stanley’s and Stella’s eyes got wider in surprise. “That sounds like a lot! How can we understand how far that is?” asked Stanley.
“There is a great way to see. I’ll send an activity back to school with you for your friends to learn too. But don’t be tricked by how far away it is. The sun’s rays easily reach our Earth and that’s the reason we need to protect our skin and eyes from it,” warned Alex.
“That must be one hot place, if it still feels warm all the way here,” Stella said.
“Oh, yes,” agreed Alex. “NASA studies the sun because astronauts who go to space get closer to the sun and its radiation. We want to make sure we protect the astronauts and their spacecraft from any harm.
“In fact, there’s a way you can learn more and even get your name in space!” said Alex.
“How?” asked Stanley, excited.
“Can our friends back at school try?” asked Stella.
Alex nodded. “Yes, you can all try our Exploration Design Challenge that teaches students – even our young friends in kindergarten through fourth grade – about solar radiation. After you finish a simple activity, you can send your name to space! It will go on the test flight of the Orion spacecraft next year.”
Stanley and Stella couldn’t wait to get their names in space, but there was still a burning question they came to NASA to answer.
“Alex, how do we help our friends stay safe from the sun while we explore our environment here on Earth?” asked Stanley.
“It is a smart idea to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses for your eyes. The sun’s rays are very strong. If you’d like to learn more my friends at the EPA have more that they can tell you.”
Stella asked, “What is EPA?”
Alex answered, “EPA is our country’s Environmental Protection Agency.”
“Oh!” Stanley said, “We just learned about the environment and what ours looks like at home. There are people that help protect it?”
“Yes there are, and I know they are excited to have you explore with them. I will send you there before you go back to school.
“The environment needs protecting everywhere, but the biggest EPA building is in our nation’s capitol, in Washington, D.C.”
“Thank you so much, Alex!” said Stanley.
“Yes, thank you! We can’t wait to share all of this with our friends,” said Stella.
With that, Alex put Stanley and Stella in a new envelope with a NASA stamp and a few pictures of their sun trip to share.
Before Stanley and Stella go back to Mrs. Ray’s classroom, they are off to visit EPA for the first time. Read about their trip to EPA in the next story!
It’s your turn!
Tell Flat Stanley and Stella three times you might be out in the sun:
Take a picture with your hat on with Green Stanley or Stella to share your picture with other kids around the world.
More Resources and Activities:
How far away is the sun? Alex’s earth to sun activity. IDEA! Take a picture with your Green Stanley next to earth and Stella next to the sun.
NASA Exploration Design Challenge Get your name in space!
Our Very Own Star the Sun (English) Grade Level: K-4. This easy-to-read book is about solar flares and sunspots and why scientists study the sun.
Nuestra Propia Estrella: el Sol (Spanish)
This story was written by Jeanethe Falvey, U.S. EPA Office of External Affairs, with creative input and support from Alex Young, Troy Cline, and Ann Marie Trotta of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We thank NASA for joining EPA on the second adventure with Green Stanley and Stella!
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.