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Ultraviolet Rays Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Ultraviolet rays are waves of light that come from the sun. In this lesson, learn about different types of ultraviolet rays, the characteristics and effects of ultraviolet rays, and ways people can protect themselves from their dangers.

Bright Star

When you hear the word 'waves', you probably think of the ocean waters crashing onto the shore. Did you know that there is another type of wave that has nothing to do with water? When you turn on a light, you are able to see thanks to light waves. Some light waves are visible to the human eye, but others are not. Ultraviolet rays are shorter light waves that are produced by the sun. People cannot see ultraviolet rays, but some insects like bees can. Un-bee-lievable! Let's find out about three different types of ultraviolet rays.

The sun produces short light waves called ultraviolet rays.
sun

UV-A Rays

Ultraviolet rays are often called UV rays for short, and there are three types. UV-A rays are the ones that you get exposed to every day. When you go outside during the day, you absorb UV-A rays into deep levels of your skin. This is what causes your skin to tan. While it is often difficult to avoid UV-A rays, it is not a good idea to be exposed to them for long periods of time. UV-A rays have been found to cause wrinkles in the skin, and it causes the skin to age faster than normal.

UV-B and UV-C Rays

Have you ever gotten a painful sunburn when hanging out at the beach or the pool? If so, you were a victim of the sun's harmful UV-B rays. These ultraviolet rays are often absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, which is the protective layer of gases surrounding the planet. However, UV-B rays can sometimes penetrate, or come through, the atmosphere, causing damage to people who are exposed to these rays. UV-B rays can affect people at any time of year, but if you stay inside, you're safe. UV-B rays usually cannot penetrate glass.

Although UV-B rays are strong in the summer, they can be harmful to people all year long.
ultraviolet rays

The most harmful type of ultraviolet rays are UV-C rays. Thanks to the Earth's atmosphere, these are almost always absorbed and do not reach the Earth's surface. To protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays, it is important to wear sunblock. You can also wear clothing that covers your skin and sunglasses to protect your eyes.

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