Attention parents, relatives, and friends of small children around the world!

You and your children are invited to join in our project. We’re conducting a survey about a certain astronomical phenomenon, and afterwards we'll share our findings. We're also going to make them into a book!


What Happens to the Sun at Night?

Asking Children about the World

11-06-12 LW

We’ve had this idea for a book for a while, and we’re going to start pursuing it.
If you asked some children aged 5 to 9 “What happens to the sun at night?” what do you think their answers would be?

Our idea is to ask this question to children all over the world, and edit the results into a book.

We will probably discover several opinions that would have never occurred to us adults. In fact, I’m sure we will. This idea has its origins in a survey that our friend Mariko Takahashi, who works in a planetarium, did ten years ago. Now what kind of answers did she get? Well we will keep that under wraps for now and wait to see what our project results are!

Incidentally, the theory of the sun-centered solar system is not taught in Japan until junior high school.
We think that children’s relationships with the sun are going to be different depending on where they live, their culture, and environmental factors. Now…


How to Participate
- Print out the survey (PDF).
- Ask children, “What happens to the sun at night?”
- Write their answers on the sheet, and send it in. It would be wonderful if the children themselves could write an answer and also include explanatory drawings. Please write down answers for children who are not yet able to write.

Send to:
Living World Inc. 4-8-22-1F Eifuku, Suginami-ku, Tokyo JAPAN 168-0064
*It would be great if you could use a large envelope and send the papers flat.
*If scanning the responses to send via e-mail, please scan at 300dpi and full-color.
*Responses without illustrations, which have been written down by an adult, may be sent as text via e-mail:

Use of Submissions
- Submissions will not be returned
- Submissions will be posted online so they can be shared with everyone.
- A selection of submissions will be collected and published (currently planning to self-publish)
- A selection of submissions will be displayed as part of the Touch the Sun exhibit at graf mouth in Osaka from July 9 to August 21.
- Submissions will be used only for the purposes listed here.

About ten years ago we were making some online educational materials for senior elementary classes and we surveyed approximately 1,000 elementary and junior high students. This project was not about the sun: it was on the subject of auroras.

“When do you think auroras come out?”
“Where on earth do you think they appear?”
“Why do you think they appear?”

I don’t think there are many adults who know the correct answers to these questions. We were the same.

Then, we decided to ask some fifth and sixth grade students directly, and paid a visit to a certain elementary school. When we asked the class, their hands went up one after another, saying “Those are clouds!” and “The sun has gone around to the other side of the world and the light is spilling over.” and so on.

The following is a response to that survey, written by a student in Hideki Suzuki’s class at Keio Yochisha Primary School.

Aurora Survey
You’ve probably heard of the aurora phenomenon. Please tell us a little about what you think by answering the following three questions. This isn’t a test, so it’s OK if your answer isn’t the right one. (^_^)

Question 1 – When do you think auroras appear?
At night in winter.

Question 2 – Where on earth do you think auroras appear?
North Pole and South Pole, cold places like that.

Question 3 – Why do you think auroras occur?
The light of the moon reflects off the ice and makes auroras.
They appear when snowflakes gather near the mountains.

Gender: (Male) Female

We think that people begin to learn about science when they form their own ideas based on observation of natural phenomena.

How do children who haven’t yet been taught about it grasp the workings of the sun? How do they think about it? We’d like to create an opportunity for children and adults to learn from each other. Please help spread the word about this project.

In order to find out what children inside and outside Japan are thinking, this project is being conducted simultaneously in Japanese and English.

Thank you for your participation! :-D

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